Bolstering its recently launched ASIC services business, Intel Corp. has put together a catalog of licensable intellectual property blocks to aid clients in the design of 10Gbit/s communications chips.
Available for both 0.18- and 0.13-micron design rules, the IP includes foundation libraries; core components such as standard bus interfaces, phase-lock loops, processors and DSPs; and specialty blocks supporting high-speed, multi-channel serial I/Os.
Missing from the catalog offering are Intel-developed IP blocks, which the company said it will make available on a select basis.
Intel said its aim is to simplify the IP sourcing process for its customers by doing the upfront technical and business evaluation of independent IP suppliers, and pre-negotiating IP contracts with them so that customers have a single point ofcontact.
"The typical ASIC today has five or six IP ingredients per chip, and it can take months to do the sourcing and eval uation," said Fred Cohen, director of marketing at Intel Microelectronics Services, based in Beaverton, Ore. "Part of our task is to make sure the client has access to a rich set of IP they need to build high-speed communications systems, and that they're able to get it from a single source."
Intel entered the design service business last September as a way to boost the prospects of startup communications OEMs and fabless chip firms -- and in the process, boost sales of its own chips into the communications arena.
"Many of Intel's [standard product] customers in the communications space are also using ASICs on the board," Cohen said. "As process technologies for ASICs moved from 0.25- to 0.18-, and now to 0.13-micron, it's been harder for those systems companies to find a credible ASIC supplier," hindering their ability to get a timely product into the market.
Intel is backing its design services with a multiphased, hierarchical design methodology honed on its internal projects, along with a netw ork of foundries, packaging and assembly houses, and EMS providers.
Customers to date have included fabless chip suppliers TeraCross Ltd. and TranSwitch Corp. The communications segment accounts for 60% of the Microelectronics unit's design wins, with the remainder composed of a mix of designs for commercial aircraft and industrial applications, Cohen said.
While the company's first IP catalog is geared toward high-speed communications applications, Cohen pointed out that the foundation libraries and core components are broadly applicable, thus they may form the basis for growth into other market segments. However, Intel plans to stage its catalog expansion with complete IP suites, rather than piecemeal additions, he said.