SAN FRANCISCO—EDA and IP standards body Accellera Organization Inc. Tuesday (April 26) launched an effort to create a standard for IP tagging—tracking soft IP information which will be automatically added and detectable in the final GDSII database format.
Soft IP, particularly from third party vendors, must be tracked to satisfy contractual obligations such as royalty reporting and usage, Accellera (Napa, Calif.) said. Control of the third party IP source is lost once IP is licensed, unlocked or otherwise made available in clear code. Accellera said its IP tagging technical subcommittee would develop a standard and methodology to utilize tags in soft IP that are readable in GDSII databases.
"We are looking forward to kicking off our efforts and defining milestones that will help us realize a working specification in 2012," said Kathy Werner, Accellera’s IP tagging technical subcommittee chair, in a statement.
"Our Soft IP tagging effort has a rich history and is an effort that is of real benefit to the electronics and semiconductor industry stakeholders," said Shishpal Rawat, Accellera chair. "This effort began with the VSI Alliance and was passed on to the Spirit Consortium, and it is now under Accellera due to our merger with the Spirit Consortium."
Accellera merged with the Spirit Consortium just over a year ago.
"The IP world is desperately in need of standards that simplify IP reuse," said Gary Smith, principal analyst at Gary Smith EDA. "Accellera is taking on the challenge. This tagging standard is a good step in the right direction."
According to Accellera, an IP tagging standard would provides a way to track IP information as it passes throughout the design and development process—including editing, synthesis, timing, placement, wiring, and other steps leading to GDSII generation. Semiconductor foundries, providers of IP blocks, and design tool providers can use the methods described by an IP tagging standard to track identification information throughout each level of the development process and more specifically, in the final GDSII database, Accellera said.
Because tags are intended to be readable on the text layer of the GDS format, previous IP tagging implementations have been specific to cells and hard IP, Accellera said. Text tags instantiated in soft IP have not been recognized or carried forward by traditional EDA tools and are therefore not currently available in the GDSII database to verify actual implementation and usage, the organization said.
"The electronics industry needs a soft IP tagging standard to protect and secure its investments," said Rich Wawrzyniak, senior market analyst at Semico Research Corp. “Tracking the version of the IP would do more than add security through such a standard; it would alert IP consumers if there are compatibility issues."
Accellera called for participation in its IP tagging technical subcommittee efforts and said interested parties are invited to join and participate.
According to EDA veteran Jim Hogan, now a private investor, IP tagging has always been less focused on piracy and more on royalty audits. An effective and fair way to audit IP usage enables a predictable business model and, in turn, allows companies to have a common approach to enterprise valuations, Hogan said.
"This lowers everyone's cost and resistance to adoption on the buy and sell side of the IP equation," Hogan said. "Tastes great and has no calories. A win-win."