Pascal Aristote, CTO, DMAP
The Semiconductor IP marketplace is a two digit rate growing market which should continue its increase next years to reach a 2.3$billion dollars in 2014 according to Gartner Dataquest. Semiconductor IPs are used in over all industries, beginning with high-tech company in the Telecom/Consumer area and now up to mature industries as transportation, spatial, medical, automotive and defense.
It exists an industry where the usage of IP is not yet developed : The Civilian Aerospace industry.
After an introduction of the different advantages of IP usage, this paper will deal with difficulties to overcome to access to this wide pool of resources which are Semiconductor IPs.
The IP market is based on following precepts shared by all:
- It’s often less expensive to buy an IP than to develop it from scratch. For high complexity technology, learning curve can lead to project delay and is error prone. It permits a better control over the project’s cost and schedule.
- A company can give more added value to their product when focused on its application than on an individual technology which composes the system.
- The multiplicity of IP customers leads to a proven solution and de-risks each customer projects from both a schedule and a technical point of view.
But what about the Civilian Aerospace industry?
The picture is clear: avionics industry becomes more and more depending on complex embedded systems. In particular, the need expressed in the segment of the electronic hardware is growing and require finding new means in the choice of implementation. The need of sustainable solutions to long-term (>25 years), a specificity of aeronautic market, leads naturally to the desire to control the content of each system, particularly, strategic components as processors and their peripherals, but also associated functions such as communication interfaces. Semiconductor IP appears as a real answer for their development but needs to overcome difficulties inherent to the industry. These difficulties can be summarized by three words: Civil, Certification, Competitive.
Civil. Because airborne can have a strong civil impact: It’s used for civil transportation, near un-segregated area. New technologies need to be enough mature with a proven determinism to avoid uncontrolled behavior. As a consequence, Semiconductor IP needs to include safety requirements to secure the function behavior as any critical system by monitoring, correcting for errors and by reporting its status to a higher level. Design techniques exist; functions segregation, modules triplication, ECC, added parity bits, safe FSM implementation,… and are often not implemented in general purpose Semiconductor IP.
Certification. Airborne needs to be certified by EASA, FAA and other worldwide aviation certification agencies before any commercial usage. The certification standard, DO-254/ED-80, is applied to all electronic hardware materials, and is focused on their design processes. In the case of Semiconductor IP, the full IP data life cycle needs to be accessible. It includes detailed data which relate IP provider’s internal design processes and the proof that they have been followed during the IP development. It’s clear that these data are generally not provided by IP vendors, on one hand, because they often don’t have them, and on the other hand, it’s not adapted to the standard requirements. From existing data, it’s possible to re-create a certification package and upgrade an IP to become DO-254 compliant. Moreover, for critical IP where source code is not accessible, it’s still possible to deliver a part of the required package and to give a restricted access to critical data. Finally, at project’s start, a technical integration support and few years later, during certification phase, a DO-254 methodological support need to be provided to customers.
Competitive. Projects requiring DO-254 compliance can be very costly if not well prepared. The cost of a DO-254 methodology applied to a project can be reduced only if it’s shared by several projects over the years. To be competitive, Semiconductor IP needs to be upgraded by a dedicated team, trained to the DO-254 standard with a mature referential, trained to the hardness process and tool and finally aware of safety techniques required by the airborne or any safety critical industry. It’s only in these conditions that the civilian aerospace industry will be able to use Semiconductor IP to increase its system complexity at a reasonable and controlled cost.
DMAP is a company focused on high reliability semiconductor application domains. DMAP has been founded in 2009 by two highly skilled engineers in the semiconductor area. With more than 40 years of experience we are able to combine IP and SoC development for ASIC and FPGA target with high reliability methods provided by the DO-254 guidance. High reliable domains as aeronautic, medical, defense and space like others mass markets are sensible to time-to-market constraints and a growing system complexity, that's why we offer to IP vendors the opportunity to address new markets and to high reliable sub-contractor community to buy DO-254 ready IP to speed up their development. For more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the company’s website at www.dmap.fr
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