Third-party IP is becoming increasingly important in SoC designs. It saves development time and adds unique value. It also can improve performance and lower power, because a company specializing in IP frequently can build and optimize it better than a company that builds entire chips.
But there are also plenty of landmines in IP integration, and there is a growing concern about how best to avoid problems that can affect performance, power, or even the integrity of an SoC. This has led to a slew of tools being created for analyzing IP, integrating it—the whole network on chip concept was created for this purpose—and verifying and testing that it all works together. Efforts are under way to improve the integration process and help standardize the characterization, as well.
Still, there is still plenty of concern about just how well all the pieces go together. In his keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum this week, CEO Brian Krzanich said that third-party IP can be added into the company’s Atom line and its new Quark chips—the company’s latest offering for the Internet of Things. But Intel is still going to be very hands-on with the integration and manufacturing of those chips and plans to be “a good supplier” using its “Copy Exactly” strategy for identical equipment, methodology and process technology across all of its fabs.
This is more than just a business proposition to grab all the manufacturing revenue—although that appears to be at least part of the motivation. The other part is that integrating IP isn’t so simple, and it’s getting harder at each new process node, which is why there has been more integration of software into hardware companies and more IP into subsystems that include both.
Synopsys, which has been building its own subsystems, now puts services teams on site at major chipmakers to help facilitate the integration of IP. And Cadence has been adding programmability into some of its IP to simplify this process. But it’s not just about electrical engineering anymore.
Click here to read more ...