Exclusive Research: What’s Happening With Third-Party IP

Analog and mixed signal gain ground as multicore SoCs emerge as the platform of choice.

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Analog and mixed signal IP began closing the gap with digital core IP in design explorations in the first two months of this year, a clear sign that multicore systems on chip have emerged as the dominant semiconductor model and that the architecture requires both types of IP.

While it’s too early to tell this year what effect that will have on overall design activity—the economy is the real determining factor there—the convergence is pronounced. In January, when chip design exploration typically is at its lowest even in a good year, there were 894 digital IP core explorations vs. 427 for analog and mixed signal. Last month, the number for digital had grown to 2,729 while those for analog/mixed signal had increased to 2350.

Off-chip interface IP also is becoming important, although to a far lesser extent. Much of that work is still being done by hand, but many industry insiders believe that approach will change over the next couple of process nodes as design engineers are called upon to add more context to their designs, including software applications and application interfaces, as well as connections at the board level. The exploration with off-chip interfaces was 211 in February, up from 75 in January.

On chip bus IP activity, meanwhile, was 173 in January vs. 327 in February, and verification IP—still in emerging market mode—showed 9 investigations in January and 28 in February.

January (blue) vs. February design investigations.

January (blue) vs. February design investigations.

–Ed Sperling