“Integrating IP is hard. When someone tries to integrate hard or soft IP they always run into issues” according to Manoj Bhatnagar, Senior Director, Field Delivery and Support, Atrenta Inc. I spoke to him after Atrenta made the joint announcement with TSMC regarding the planned availability of IP Kit 2.0. This is based on the SpyGlass RTL design platform and is a fundamental element of TSMC’s soft IP9000 Quality Assessment program that assesses the robustness and completeness of soft, or synthesizable IP.
I asked Manoj – where are we with IP qualification and overcoming integration problems.
Manoj: The problems with hard IP are relatively simple compared to those with soft IP and yet some people still think they are a mess. Hard IP is easier because there is less data that can change. When you get to soft IP, which is basically an RTL block, there are increasing challenges with integration. For example, if I synthesize this RTL block, at this frequency, what is my power going to be? What if the power is too much for my package to handle? I would not know that until I had synthesized it and going through the physical design is a long cycle. So they have to do a lot of work to make sure that get the results they need out of the IP.
Are the problems different between internal reuse and external IP?
Manoj: When a company buys a piece of IP, they have a reasonable assurance that any problems that are found will be fixed. But it is a different story when the IP is internal reuse. The original developers may be working on something else and you may have little leverage to get them to do anything about problems. Because of this some semiconductor companies are also looking at putting this type of program in place for their internal IP and reuse programs.
This program was originally announced on May 26th 2011. Was conceived by Atrenta or TSMC. Who had the greater need?
Manoj: Atrenta had originally come up with this idea, but as an EDA company we only get so much attention. Everyone could see the problem but felt that all Atrenta was trying to do was sell more tools. So it was difficult to get traction. Then TSMC came to Atrenta and asked for a golden rule set for soft IP. TSMC acknowledged that Atrenta had more experience than they had and allowed Atrenta to define the rule set. There are currently over 5000 rules in Spyglass and we identified about 300 to 350 rules for the TSMC program which we believe are the most impactful.