Ed Sperling over at the Low-Power Engineering Community just published the transcripts of a fascinating discussion about IP with Ken Brock, senior staff product marketing manager for logic libraries in Synopsys’ Solutions Group; Kalar Rajendiran, senior director of marketing at eSilicon; Mike Gianfagna, vice president of marketing at Atrenta; and Jim McCanny, CEO of Altos Design Automation. For the relatively few number of words in the transcript, there’s a ton of really good information. For example:
When asked “What is the big issue in IP these days?” Brock replied “Quality, quality and quality.” Ain’t it the truth. The quality of purchased IP is certainly a big problem. The emphasis on low price may cause some companies to give short shrift to IP quality, at the peril of endangering a multi-million-dollar SoC design project.
Rajendiran replied “…the high-level issue is the disconnect between the users of IP and the builders of IP. Customers want a certain thing from a technical or a business perspective and suppliers want it a different way.” This is also so true and it’s an aspect I recently discussed during an “IP and IP Selection” panel at the EETimes Virtual SoC 2.0 Conference in November. Certainly there are technical issues, but it turns out that IP licensing is the big, ugly fly in the ointment here and legal teams can hold up the licensing of IP for months beyond the time required to qualify the actual IP.
When asked if companies are using more off-the-shelf IP these days, Gianfagna replied “A tipping point happened in the last year or two. We went from chip designs being original work with some IP integrated to a chip design being 90% IP, and hopefully you pick it right. Now the IP quality issues really start to bite you. If you pick bad bricks to build the building it falls down.” This is precisely what Cadence means when we talk EDA360, SoC Realization, and the transition from designing ICs almost exclusively through IP creation to far more IP integration.
Gianfagna’s last statement in the interview pretty much sums things up pretty well: “So are people going to demand from their IP supplier that [IP] be checked and validated across a broad set of applications and certified by someone—most likely the supplier of the IP? If that happens there will be a few very large, multinational, multibillion-dollar suppliers of IP. It takes a lot of resources to stand behind something with that much validation. It’s not easy to do.”