Many design teams who are using or creating intellectual property cores are aware of the Reuse Methodology Manual and OpenMore (Open Measure of Reuse Excellence) assessment program. These are two efforts by Synopsys Inc. and Mentor Graphics Corp. to increase the effectiveness of reusing intellectual property cores to benefit the system-on-chip (SoC) industry.
The OpenMore assessment program is a spreadsheet that is used to assess the reusability of intellectual property cores. It is based on the Reuse Methodology Manual (RMM) second edition, co-authored by Michael Keating of Synopsys and Pierre Bricaud of Mentor Graphics.
Synopsys and Mentor have analyzed OpenMore registration logs and have informally sampled users to gain some insights. In addition, Ron Collett of Collett International Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) conducted a survey that included questions about the current and anticipated use of OpenMore in the SoC industry.
These surveys have shown that OpenMore is quickly becoming referenced as a common tool for reuse in many segments of the SoC industry. Systems companies that typically reuse internally developed intellectual property and source IP from independent IP semiconductor companies lead the pack in adopting OpenMore. About 25 percent of all More and OpenMore users are from companies that design or manufacture systems products, the largest user segment. Collett's study shows 15 percent of systems companies surveyed are using OpenMore today with a full 28 percent expecting to adopt it by 2001.
Semiconductor vendors, which typically both offer intellectual property cores of their own and source IP cores from independent providers, come in a close second in adopting OpenMore. Synopsys and Mentor estimate that another 25 percent of users are from semiconductor vendors. Collett's study indicates that 9 percent of semiconductor vendor companies surveyed are using the system today and that 22 percent of all semicon ductor organizations will use it in 2001. This is a rapid level of adoption, reflecting the importance of reusability-the critical factor in the speed and predictability of intellectual property integration.
In addition, IP providers comprise 20 percent of users today, and Collett's study shows that these users lead the SoC indus-try in adopting strong reuse practices. Intellectual property providers have been eager to facilitate reuse for their customers in order to streamline their customer support requirements and shake off the reputation that independent intellectual property is hard to use-a reputation that dogged some of the pioneers in the IP industry. Many IP providers, including Mentor Graphics, participate in the Synopsys IP Catalyst program, which produces a free Web catalog of IP, which has been rated using OpenMore.
Interest in OpenMore has been strong worldwide. Users from North America and Europe make up 30 percent each of those who registered to download OpenMore. Japan registrations follow closely at 26 percent, with 14 percent coming from the Asia Pacific region.
The most common uses for the system are for developing reuse infrastructure, for evaluating intellectual property licensed from internal and external IP providers and for developing intellectual property for the commercial IP market.
Designers using the system typically develop their reuse infrastructure and modify it to incorporate elements unique to their design methodology or semiconductor technology. Some use it as a check against established internal standards, but more often OpenMore is being used in the early stages of developing awareness about reuse issues and to begin to set criteria for improving the reusability of intellectual property. Very often, the tool is propagated to design team managers as a method or checklist to use in creating IP cores.
Here's what we heard from More users who responded in confidence to a Synopsys survey. Most users of More have now migrated to OpenMore, which was introduced by Mentor Graphics and Synopsys in November 1999. OpenMore has now adopted guidelines from the Virtual Socket Interface Alliance (VSIA).
'Grading' a design
One user, the design quality manager of the United States arm of a European semiconductor vendor, said he expects to use More to help create qualification and release requirements for intellectual property blocks. Having the ability to "grade" a design to see how it stacks up to reuse requirements was helpful. The system was also useful as a reference and to cultivate ideas for standardizing qualification requirements across organizations.
A design manager responsible for researching new ASIC design methodologies said that a subset of More proved useful as a guideline to development teams. Many of the criteria turned out to be good design guidelines that were viewed as common sense by experienced engineers.
The CAE team leader of an American telecommunications compa ny is using the system to define policies and procedures for sourcing external IP and generating and reusing internal intellectual property.
While companies like to tailor OpenMore for use internally, they also recognize the benefits of a "common language" when evaluating intellectual property from independent providers. One ASIC designer said that there are a number of issues that collide with in-house VHDL coding/ASIC design standards, but the issues proved to be minor. Intellectual property providers need to be sure their IP does not require high levels of customized support and have to overcome the confidence gap customers may have in using IP "not invented here." OpenMore has helped in that regard by allowing intellectual property providers to articulate why customers can have confidence with IP designed for reuse. It also helps them focus on areas in need of redesign for reuse.
SoC companies that wish to use established criteria for reusability may download the OpenMore assessment progr am at no charge from www.openmore.com. SoC companies that are looking for intellectual property cores that have been designed for reuse and rated with OpenMore can find them in the Synopsys IP Catalyst catalog, which links the user directly to all of the approximately 40 participating IP providers' Web sites, including those of Mentor Graphics and Synopsys.