LOS ANGELES ASIC Alliance Corp., the oddly named services and design-verification company, is branching out from its core "design aid" business and will move further into front-end design by offering intellectual property (IP). The company said it will probably change its name by year's end.
President and chief executive officer Ray Carlin said the Woburn, Mass., company is also trying to push the industry into creating an Underwriters' Laboratories-type certification for IP verification.
"Companies that want to use the developed IP should be able to take it, plug it in and not really worry about it," he said.
Rich McAndrew, a founder and the chairman of ASIC Alliance, said the company is doubling revenues every year, and has grown to 175 employees with 10 design centers. It now needs to expand into areas that are natural extensions of its business model, he said. The company's bread and butter has been helping design-engineering tea ms with functional verification tasks.
Reusable IP is an emerging key to the success of that methodology, hence the company's interest, McAndrew said at the Design Automation Conference here last week.
"The world is changing, which is not good news for the EDA companies," he said.
ASIC Alliance almost surely will steer clear of the low-margin, commodity IP sector, said Carlin. And it will tread carefully in "leading-edge" IP. "Everybody knows today's proprietary IP is tomorrow's commodity IP," he said.
ASIC Alliance has begun working with companies on what it calls "domain-specific" IP, such as DSP cores, switch fabrics, and MPEG devices. ASIC Alliance believes its engineering resources can help companies in this complicated area and aid in managing existing cores and pushing them into future designs.
ASIC Alliance wants to make that IP available up the food chain to the customer's customer. If it can help create and verify the IP at the functional level, that piece should become a plug -and-play part of the customer's next board product, McAndrew said.
"We think there's repeatability," he said, adding that there's a chance of creating a royalty business model targeting his customer's customer. "Would the systems company pay royalty for that IP to get an early look at what's coming to them? I think they would."
While there are currently few vendors or customers in the domain-specific IP area, ASIC Alliance said it expects customers will be willing to put up the significant expenditures necessary to develop and verify such specialized cores. The company also is considering developing its own cores.
ASIC Alliance is also pushing its business more into the design end, where 25 percent of its revenues come from three times the amount from a year ago. Fully 70 percent of its total revenues come from communications-oriented companies.
And as for the name, Carlin shrugs sheepishly and smiles. "We'll be repositioning the company by the end of year," he said. "Any good names t hat aren't already taken out there?"