By Michael Kaskowitz, general manager, Intellectual Property DivisionMentor Graphics
System complexity is driving the need for intellectual property. With the arrival of platform-based design and the proliferation of embedded cores, designs are getting bigger and more complex. This in turn leads to a wider assortment of design tasks per chip. In most situations, designers don’t have time to create all new components, and the majority of engineering teams do not have expertise in all of the design domains found in today’s SoCs and FPGAs. As well, a great deal of time is spent re-creating basic functionality, designers don’t have time to concentrate on the things that differentiate their designs.
Even if designers built all their components, from error correction, packet encoding and decoding, Analog/Digital converters, communications peripherals to embedded software, they still face the correspondingly enormous task of verifying and validating that everything works together and performs to specification. This is much more difficult if everything is new, even when mitigated with legacy components.
For all of these reasons, the need for third-party IP is critical. But IP must deliver more than the desired functionality. It has limited impact on the design complexity challenge if it does not conform to two criteria. One, each IP component must be designed to industry standards. Two, all IP must be pre-verified to function precisely as advertised. Pre-tested, standards-based IP establishes functionally correct interconnections between blocks, shortening the time to working silicon.
Standards-based IP delivers a flexible solution that supports software and hardware design. Standards conformance ensures that the IP interoperates with other devices in the system. Standards-based IP also accommodates the necessary variations within the standards themselves. Final adherence to standards promotes design reuse.
Pre-verified cores enable integration with existing board-level designs on silicon, thus, reducing silicon costs. Only if standards-based IP is pre-verified can one be sure that it will deliver the reliability and compliance needed to get a design out on schedule. The only way to know whether third-party IP is pre-verified is to go with an IP provider that can be counted on: one that guarantees that its IP has undergone a rigorous verification process by providing documentation and application-specific historicals.
A chosen provider should deliver a complete portfolio of high quality, portable hardware (digital, analog, and RF) and embedded software IP. IP that is proven to meet all the requirements of the given technology and to function correctly when put together. In addition, it is an enormous advantage to purchase IP from a vendor that is recognized for backing up its IP with a meaningful and comprehensive level of support. This support is made more relevant if that company is an expert in the tools and technologies used to design and verify a company’s designs.
An IP solution that meets all of these criteria will help designers successfully create complex, multimillion gate designs by increasing overall productivity, shortening design cycles, and speeding the entry of products to market.