TOKYO Attempting to address a missing link in the burgeoning intellectual property (IP) trade, four Japan-based semiconductor and consumer electronics companies and the Japanese subsidiary of one U.S.-based EDA vendor have agreed to develop an electronic distribution and exchange network for IP cores.
Led by Fujitsu Ltd., the IP Highway Consortium will define a protocol for exchanging IP over the Internet, including catalog information, encryption, trace mechanisms, as well as design information such as RTL and gate-level simulation modeling. The coalition comprised of Fujitsu, Matsushita, Mentor Graphics Japan, Sony and Toshiba hopes to complete the project by August or September of 2000.
"If we can prove this transfer protocol, we can open it worldwide," said Minoru Yamamoto, general manager for marketing for Fujitsu's Semiconductor Group. Yamamoto is overseeing the group's technical committees.
Currently, companies have little difficulty distributing cores when it comes to bilateral exchanges, but the job becomes increasing complex as electronics companies look to acquire significant amounts of IP from multiple vendors, Yamamoto said.
"For every 100 companies, we need 100 conversion programs. It's useless to develop so many conversion programs," he said.
IP Highway Consortium's scope is limited to develop the needed mechanisms for core distribution, and will not attempt to define a standard licensing and royalty scheme, Yamamoto said.
Another group, Virtual Component Exchange (Livingston, Scotland), is looking at that issue. Toshiba is also a member of VCX. Yamamoto said IP Highway Consortium will make a proposal to VCX, and to the Virtual Socket Interface alliance as well.
IP Highway Consortium intends to use the catalog standard developed by Rapid, the Reusable Application-Specific Intellectual Property Developers group. Both Rapid and VCX are working to create an Internet-based IP identification and qualification system, business models for IP companies, and licensing models.
Yamamoto said the five companies in the IP Highway Consortium, all of which are active participants in VSI, decided to form their group at a recent VSI alliance meeting in Japan. The consortium is not looking to add members, he said. It will work first to define software specifications within the next month, followed by the development of a network and test trials in the next six months, he said.