Back in April, I wrote a blog in which I suggested that the acronym IP should stand for Intellectual Partnership rather than Intellectual Property. This was based on the fact that design blocks cannot just be thrown over a wall from a developer to a user but that both teams need to work together to make the final design successful.
With that as a backdrop, I brought together four experts in the field to discuss this and IP in general. The four consisted of Mike Gianfagna, vice president of corporate marketing at Atrenta; Warren Savage, CEO of IPextreme; John Koeter, vice president of marketing for the Solutions Group at Synopsys; and Chris Rowen, Cadence Fellow and CTO of Tensilica. This is part one of that roundtable.
Brian Bailey: Do you feel that the IP business is a partnership, and, in general, does that partnership work?
Warren Savage: I think that's a very healthy way to think about the way the industry works and is something that the industry is starting to wake up to. IP is so important, and it's so expensive, that a supplier-consumer relationship really doesn't adequately describe the level of cooperation between our customers and our partners.
Mike Gianfagna: I say it's one part reality and maybe one part wishful thinking. I think you'll see a lot more growth, a lot more design starts, a lot more opportunity. As Warren points out, there's some very encouraging starts, but I think there's a ways to go for it to be truly pervasive. I think a partnership will make it a lot faster and make its commercial application more robust.
But if you want to talk about the quality of delivered IP, you need a vocabulary to talk about that. That is just starting to emerge now. We need a vocabulary that clearly defines what constitutes a certain level of quality for IP deliverables. If we have a set of metrics, then the cream floats to the top, and people that are delivering a high-quality standard get bought and get used more often.
Chris Rowen: I'd like to agree and disagree with the premise of the question. I certainly agree that the relationship between the supplier and the consumer is very important and really reflects the relationship between the system architect and the component architect in that they have to work together. But I want to disagree in the sense that there is no property suggests that there is no value in the IP. And I don't think that's true.
The buyer wants and needs an enormous investment that they don't have to fully pay for. This is the essential economics of the IP industry in that one team is creating it and is selling it to a lot of others, and each user only has to pay a small fraction of the value that they're getting. I think the future of the IP industry is very much tied to the question of, on the one hand, partnership, so that there's open communication about what's really required to make the end silicon platform successful, but also the science of doing it in a configurable, scalable, software-rich manner, with room for differentiation that means that not only can the IP supplier make money, but in fact the value proposition for the end platform is enhanced by the fact that they've incorporated this.
John Koeter: I can't imagine running an IP business without having trust between the IP supplier and their customers. For me the question becomes what is trust, and that's an interesting question. So, trust to me is that they are counting on you to deliver a high-quality IP; that they're counting on you to meet their commitments, schedule-wise; that they're counting on you to work with them on their special needs and requirements, to support them -- those are just some of the aspects of trust. When the chips come back, there are always bring-up issues. To me that's what I think customers mean by trust, and I think with that, it certainly implies a close partnership.
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In the next installment I ask about the barriers to entry to the IP industry.
In your experience, how often are there problems between an IP supplier and user? What areas are the most problematic for the industry?