SANTA CLARA, Calif.Intellectual property (IP) was a hot topic at the DesignCon show here last week, with frustration over the quality of IP and business models that are described as immature being knocked more than once.
Users continue to bemoan the dearth of standards and effective quality metrics that they say would help greatly in confidently selecting IP. But several speakers in panel discussions here highlighted reasons why what sounds like a straightforward issue is infinitely more complex. And, many said, the only way to be truly successful in selecting and implementing IP is through deep vendor-customer collaboration.
During a panel on IP selection, an audience member voiced the observation that chips are like the printed circuit boards of yesteryear, with IP cores acting in the role once occupied by standard components. He likened stitching together an SoC using several IP blocks to slapping components onto a pc board to build a system.
But several audience members disagreed, noting that, among other things, standard components can be evaluated by datasheets and performance benchmarking that describe exactly what each device will do. For the most part, the IP business still offers nothing comparable.
Gabriele Saucier, a co-founder of the web portal of IP information, Design and Reuse, said it was a folly to compare the quality of one IP core with another and that the attributes of an IP core could not be captured in a datasheet like those of a standard electronic component. An IP core, she said, is not designed to work independent of the rest of a design. (Design and Reuse is partially owned by TechInsights, the division of United Business Media that owns EE Times.)
Design & Resuse
Saucier expounded on what she sees as the differences between plug-and-play components and IP blocks. Other panelists joined in, making statements that seemed to fly in the face of what some have considered the Holy Grail for IPthe idea that a chip can be easily assembled by stitching together IP blocks from multiple third-party vendors and adding in a few differentiating elements.
Several members of the audience seemed taken aback. One could be overheard saying, somewhat angrily, "That is exactly how IP is supposed to work."
The idea of plug-and-play IP is the goal for most in the industry, said Kalar Rajendiran, senior director of marketing at eSilicon Corp. "We haven't gone there, and I don't know if we will ever get there," said Rajendiran, a member of the selecting IP panel, in a subsequent interview with EE Times. "Things are coming from different companies and work differently together."