Safeguarding silicon IP and automating support
By Michael Santarini, EE Times
September 5, 2000 (10:07 a.m. EST)
There are three ways to safeguard silicon intellectual property (IP)-deterrence, protection and detection-and most companies will do best by combining them. That's the conclusion of a Virtual Socket Interface Alliance white paper outlining the pros and cons of the various approaches. "The idea is to use the protection scheme or mix of protection schemes for your particular virtual component," said Ian Mackintosh, head of the VSIA's IP-protection working group and final editor of the document.
The paper, which has been in development since April 1998, examines how patents and copyrights can be used as deterrents for IP violations. Under protection mechanisms, it describes encryption, hardware protection and chemical protection. In detection, the paper discusses tagging and tracking, digital signatures, digital fingerprinting, digital watermarking and noise fingerprinting.
Of these alternatives, Mackintosh cited digital fingerprinting an d noise fingerprinting as the two most promising approaches.
The white paper also discusses in lay terms the Trade Secret Law. A section on silicon security describes the protection values inherent in programmable SRAM, hard-mask and antifuse programmable architectures.
"We think the paper will be of great interest to not only those developing and using IP, but to EDA and silicon companies too," said Mackintosh. "Up to now, there really hasn't been an even-keel outline of what intellectual-property protection schemes are available and how they differ."
The paper is available from the VSIA's Web site, www.vsia.org. Mackintosh said some VSIA members are lobbying for a seminar on IP protection. Anyone interested can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seeking to provide automated support of silicon IP, Synchronicity Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) this week will announce HelpDesk, an option for the IP Gear product line. HelpDesk serves companies that own large collections of IP and want to manage its distribution and support.
HelpDesk adds browser-based support to IP Gear, allowing IP integrators to log problem "tickets," review an existing knowledge base and receive help from IP specialists in an organized fashion. The primary end users will be designers integrating third-party or in-house IP blocks onto systems-on-chip.
IP Gear, described by Synchronicity as an "enterprise application server," helps companies build an internal infrastructure for design reuse. Its features include IP storage, life cycle management, distribution, support and tracking.
Conexant is an early customer of HelpDesk, according to Synchronicity.
IP Gear HelpDesk is available now. Pricing starts at $150,000, with cost and configuration depending on customer requirements. IP Gear server software runs on Solaris and HP-UX platforms, and is accessible through any standard Web browser. Further infor mation is at www.synchronicity.com.
Edited by Michael Santarini, with a contribution by Richard Goering