At the Design Automation Conference earlier this month, I participated in a breakfast roundtable to discuss the ease (or lack thereof) of integrating third-party silicon IP into a design. Details on the roundtable were discussed in my last blog (June 4), but my co-participants – Steve Leibson of Tensilica, Adam Traidman of ChipEstimate.com and Navraj Nandra of Synopsys – and I were fairly consistent in our view that if will be very difficult to make third-party IP integration a turnkey operation.

At this time there appear to be three obstacles to “easy? IP implementation on a chip: lack of standardization about what constitutes quality IP and a “good? IP supplier; the fact that every reuse of a piece of IP constitutes putting the IP into a different system environment on the chip, each with its own unique interface and timing considerations; and IP and overall chip complexity continue to increase as process nodes shrink. Furthermore, when you consider analog/mixed-signal IP, the IP integration task becomes even more daunting.

The first barrier to turnkey IP integration, lack of standardization, was addressed for a time by the now dissolved VSIA. While the Alliance made progress in IP qualification standardization, no one as yet has successfully continued this development although the IEEE, which picked up the VSIA work, should show some further improvement in qualification standards down the road. What are also needed are customers who demand a global quality IP standard for selecting IP and IP vendors; right now, too many companies rely on internal means of gauging quality

Successful IP reuse will continue to be a problem due to system-level issues when implementing IP in an SoC. As much as we would like to think that we can treat IP as a separate entity, there are too many interactions on the chip to do so – each SoC represents a different set of requirements for IP integration and verification.

Finally, as IP and overall chip complexity continues to grow, there is an increasing need for better “system-like? tools that operate on an SoC and its blocks. Such tools will eventually be available for IP integration, but what is available currently is not adequate.

So, yes, my short-term view of turnkey IP integration is a negative one. An IP supplier must become more of a partner to the IP integrator and not just a supplier of IP. The suppliers, along with possible third-party “IP integration facilitators,? similar to design houses but focusing on IP implementation, must provide a higher level of service to the integrators. In other words, look at the absence of a turnkey IP integration methodology as an opportunity for more engineering jobs in the semiconductor industry.

Posted by admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: June 26, 2008, 2:48 pm | No Comments »

Well, whether or not it becomes a debate is up-in-the-air, but there will be a Wednesday morning breakfast roundtable during DAC on the topic, “Can IP Integration be an SoC Methodology or is it Always Ad-Hoc?? that should be very interesting.

Most of the IP integration community agrees that implementing third-party silicon IP on a chip is generally not easy, due to a variety of reasons including the lack of standardization in both accessing IP quality and actually putting it on a chip. However, is this permanent or just a temporary situation?

The roundtable will be moderated by Ron Wilson, Executive Editor of EDN, who will be sure to keep the roundtable participants, including yours truly, honest and in line. The four participating companies, besides Sidense, include ChipEstimate.com, Synopsys and Tensilica. Ron will have some probing questions, concerning how to search for “good? third-party IP and how to optimize IP vendor and user efforts for IP integration and verification, at the ready, but the idea is to have YOU bring up your concerns and opinions to us.

So – if you would like to mix breakfast and a little business, drop by the Hilton Hotel at 8AM Wednesday to see if turnkey IP is a myth or a future reality. You can pre-register at http://www.sidense.com/index.php?option=com_facileforms&Itemid=59&lang=en or just come on by. Yes – I do have my own opinion about turnkey IP, but you will have to come to the breakfast to hear it.

Posted by admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: June 4, 2008, 3:50 pm | No Comments »