The world of intellectual property (IP) blocks is set to become more like the standard component business, following the launch of a consortium that aims to provide one licensing agreement that covers a range of IP suppliers.
The Common Licence Consortium has been set up by programmable logic developer Xilinx with most of its AllianceCore members. It is a potential competitor for the Virtual Component Exchange and its standard IP contract model, although Xilinx has initially limited membership to its existing technology partners.
The consortium is offering the SignOnce licence. It allows customers to use IP netlists from any of the members on a site basis or a project basis under one set of terms and conditions, rather than requiring users to negotiate terms with every IP provider.
Dave Nicklin, segment solutions marketing manager for Xilinx, said: "We are seeing more designs where you have multiple cores and you have to go to different providers. This initiative is to make using cores almost like using components."
Although the concept is currently restricted to Xilinx partners, Nicklin said SignOnce could gain wider usage and recognition.
"It could be a model for other people to follow even if they do want to be associated with this particular consortium," he said.
Altera, Xilinx's main rival, was not available for comment.
The consortium's 22 founding members include Mentor Graphics' Inventra IP division and configurable processor designer ARC Cores.
Emmanuel Benzaquen, ARC's strategic alliance manager, said: "We see this as a significant development since ARC's mission is to help system-on-chip (SoC) designers accelerate their development and get their products to market quickly.
"With our involvement in the Common Licence Consortium, we can help our customers take several more months off their development cycle."
ARC is involved because it uses a Xilinx Virtex-E FPGA in its ARC angel 3 hardware prototyping development system.
"A customer can now create a complete complex SoC including several cores with just one set of tools and also one single licence," said Benzaquen.