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Don’t Be The Dinosaur On IP Reuse

To get the maximum value from IP assets, it’s time to change how we manage them.

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In today’s competitive marketplace, IP assets are becoming more critical and strategic than ever before. There is a general understanding among all design companies that one needs to invest and reuse IPs within the enterprise for faster realization of an IP sub-system or an SoCs. Unfortunately, from the start most companies have failed to adopt the processes for developing and reusing their IPs. Over time these processes have evolved and now to compete on a global landscape, it is necessary to adopt new methods for reusing IPs successfully in SoCs.

But why is it so important to transition to new methods? The reason is that SoCs are becoming increasingly complex with increased pressures on design teams.  This is due to:

  • Shorter times to market,
  • More complex technology,
  • More complex organizations, and
  • Geographically dispersed multi-partner teams with varied business models.

All of which bring higher risks in the development of an SoC.  Reusing verified IPs mitigates the risks involved for a successful tape out.

The adoption of new processes within a company is never easy. Every company goes through a phase when one attempts to introduce new approaches. The discussions within the company can range from “It is nice to have this method” to “We used to successfully tape out even without these tools.” The real question is: Should we be like aging dinosaurs and refuse to give new methods a shot? If the new process is non-intrusive to the current design flows within the company and it enables the designers to be more efficient in taping out successfully, the answer is an emphatic NO!

With a number of evolving technologies and standards such as 5G, IoT, automotive, etc., ensuring a comprehensive IP management system helps define how deftly the company can respond to changing standards. As a result, to enable companies to respond quickly, the model for an IP has evolved into a complex matrix which tracks the usage, attributes, foundries, process nodes, associated standards, etc. in addition to end-user metrics, access controls, etc.

Managing the complexity of these standards requires an IP management system to bridge the communication between the IP developers and users. IP users now need to be better informed prior to selecting an IP and need to often review the IP contents – design database, scripts, specs, existing issues etc. as well as end user experience. This much needed evolution of the IP ecosystem enables users to work independently by leveraging end-user experience and managing a live and growing knowledge-base.

Further from an ease of use standpoint, for every IP developed, the IP specifications, issues found, discussions etc. are captured in a wide range of applications ranging from note books, word documents to issue tracking systems and data management systems. For better efficiency and collaboration it becomes important to collate all the accumulated knowledge as well as the user experience with the associated IP, making it easier for IP users to evaluate and reuse the IP.

Managing the IPs and tracking their usage and the various attributes has started to play an important role. With the consolidation of companies in the semiconductor industry, IPs have started to play a prominent role in the evaluation of the company. And needless to say, patented IPs command a premium!

To respond to the dynamically changing semiconductor market, it has become important to have an underlying IP reuse ecosystem which keeps track of not only the IPs but associated collateral and knowledgebase. This helps not only medium to big size companies but also small companies which can adopt this process early on in their growth cycle.



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