On Cores
Meditations on the semiconductor and IP industries
By Warren Savage, CEO, IPextreme

Wednesday Oct. 01, 2008

One on One: Kathy Werner

Joining us in this One-on-One is Kathy Werner, past president of VSIA.
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Kathy Werner has led the industry in its quest for IP standards. She is the past president of the VSI Alliance which was the leading industry organization for IP standards. Kathy chaired the VSI Alliance Quality IP Pillar in VSIA and is acting chair for the IEEE Quality Working Group working on the evolution of the Quality IP (QIP) Metric. As a major IDM IP Strategy and Business Manager, Kathy is responsible for IP coordination, standardization and quality. Kathy is also the chair for the Design Con IP Business and Engineering Impacts track.



Thanks very much for participating in this series, its great to get someone with some much experience in working in the global IP community. Our readers are surely eager to hear your opininons on these questions I've been asking for the last month. Let's start.

1. For IP companies, what do you see as their #1 challenge with their customers and what should they doing about it?

I believe a large challenge is supporting multiple customer requirements without a clear industry standards infrastructure to support the business engagements. By this I refer to supporting RFI’s, incoming QA and acceptance, multiple different but similar IP versions for company specific applications, and issue tracking/resolution to all users without disclosing application information.

2. Putting the shoe on the other foot, what do you perceive as their customer’s # 1 challenge and what should they be doing about it?

The issues listed above are also endemic to the consumers. The “non-standard” standard IP approach and additional resources and time required to support slightly different requirements result in delayed TTM and higher IP costs.

3. The IP business model undergoes periodic attack from the media, do you think the IP business model is broken? Please elaborate.

I wouldn’t say it’s broken, rather that it can be improved. IP quality aspects and evaluation criteria all have a common baseline which should be leveraged via industry efforts such as QIP and the hard IP quality risk assessment tool, resulting in the small additional subset of company-specific criteria being a much small and more manageable aspect. The complexity of the IP being marketed naturally engenders risk and I believe that the providers are struggling with the balance of how to best support their customers, turn a profit and grow their business.

4. The IP market is dominated (revenue-wise) by a few large players, yet there remains hundreds of small outfits. Why is that?

I think that small players will always be entering the market, developing and delivering niche or otherwise innovative IP. As these IP’s become more mainstream or valuable, it opens the door for being acquired by a larger IP provider or finding some other way to stay ahead of the “big guys”.

5. Should there be more or less IP companies?

I don’t think that there’s a magic number of companies, rather the market will determine the number based on requirements and value.

6. What role should EDA companies play in the IP market?

EDA companies obviously need to support the implementation and verification standards so that the end customers can actually use the IP. This seems easy, but the fact is that many of the standards are not completely explicit and leave room for interpretation. There can be a significant amount of time lost when using an IP that was developed in one flow and integrated using another. This is more of a standards issue, but the in general, the EDA companies are involved in, or at least monitoring, the standards development so I put out a call for action to all involved to close the gaps in the “interpretations”.

7. What role should Service companies play in the IP market?

There are a number of possible roles, but again, it comes down to what the market will bear and the value provided. For example, service providers can provide B2B portals, provide channel marketing for the IP, provide independent certification of IP, and the list goes on.

8. To what extent do you think the IP industry has come to grips with its quality issues?

I believe that everyone wants good quality, and in many cases believe that they have the supreme criteria and measure. As mentioned earlier, many of these are common for everyone; using a standard quality measure, at least as a baseline, makes it easier for the providers to generate the company-specific information and also facilitates evaluation and review by the end users.

9. Is there a need for greater standardization in IP?

I think that standards-based functional IP is fairly well understood. The open items pertain to productivity improvements in implementing the IP; taking away the “interpretation”, facilitating evaluation and implementation. There are a number of efforts in this space including The SPIRIT Consortium/IEEE for IP-XACT, IEEE for quality metrics, and the on-going efforts to enhance Verilog, System Verilog, VHDL, System C, etc.

10. Ten years from now, what does the IP market look like?

If I knew, I’d be set for life. I do believe that there will continued consolidation in the market simply due to the complexity and expense of developing and supporting the IP, however new and niche IP companies will likely continue to pop up.

Posted by Warren Savage on Wednesday Oct. 01, 2008 | Add a Comment

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About the Author

Warren Savage, President and CEO of IPextreme, is a well-known and published authority in the field of semiconductor intellectual property. He has a long history of pushing the envelope of design methodology from his work in fault tolerant computing at Tandem Computers in the 1980's and driving reliable design metholologies into commercial practice at Synopsys for its DesignWare IP product in the 1990s. Much of his thinking became embodied in the seminal book on IP reuse, the Reuse Methodology Manual. Warren is taking his vision to the next level with his latest company, IPextreme, which is focused on enabling broad commercialization of IP captive in large semiconductor companies.