SANTA CRUZ, Calif. Promising a standard way to evaluate the quality of silicon intellectual property, the Virtual Socket Interface Alliance (VSIA) has created a Quality IP (QIP) Metric that's currently undergoing member review. The QIP Metric consists of spreadsheets with questions that are given relative scores and priorities.
The metric was created by the VSIA's VC Quality Development Working Group to provide a standard that will allow both IP creators and integrators to measure the quality of IP against a checklist of critical issues. It leverages earlier donations including the OpenMore IP assessment program from Synopsys and Mentor Graphics, the ChartReuse IP program from Agere Systems and Cadence Design Systems, and the Quality Attributes Checklist from ST Microelectronics.
The recent surge in IP development has created the need for a standard metric, said Bill Billowitch, IP design reuse and developme nt manager at Agere Systems and a VSIA board member. "We build our own IP internally, and while we may not offer it for public sale, there's a need to run IP through a quality assurance process," he said.
As for commercially sold IP, he noted, there is considerable "variability in the quality of deliverables."
Billowitch said the QIP Metric extends well beyond the OpenMore IP program, which used a spreadsheet to evaluate digital IP. The new metric, he said, includes not only digital IP, but also analog, embedded software, and verification IP. Further, he said, questions have a "higher degree of objectivity" than those asked in OpenMoremeaning that most of the questions in the QIP Metric have clear "yes" or "no" answers.
The new metric also ranks questions according to priorities. An imperative is the most crucial kind of question, and it's usually a showstopper. As such, the number of missed imperatives is displayed in red on the QIP Metric spreadsheet. One imperative, for example, asks whe ther the IP is synthesizable.
A rule is less crucial than an imperative, and the number of missed rules is shown in yellow on the spreadsheet. But rules score higher than guidelines, which are basically "nice to have" features. Missed guidelines show up in green on the spreadsheet.
Thus, Billowitch said, the user ends up with not only an absolute score, but a ranking of what's most important. A lower score with only missed rules and guidelines might be preferable to a higher score with a missed imperative.
The QIP Metric includes a vendor assessment worksheet, and separate worksheets for digital, analog, software and verification IP. Users are expected to fill out the vendor assessment worksheet, which includes around 40 questions, and one of the other worksheets, which each include around 200 questions.
Billowitch said VSIA would like IP creators to use the entire worksheet, while integrators fill out the top portion, which represents the "integrator's view."
One question surrounding the QIP Metric is whether companies will adopt it, or will continue to work with checklists representing their own questions and priorities. "Quite a number of companies with tremendous experience in IP development and use were involved in creating this," Billowitch said. "We want one set of questions for everybody so grading is consistent."
Companies involved in the VC Quality Development Working Group include Agere, Alcatel, ARM, Cadence, Fujitsu, FZI, Intel, Mentor Graphics, Motorola, sci-worx, ST Microelectronics, Synopsys and Toshiba.
VSIA is projecting that the member evaluation, along with beta testing, will be completed in 30 days.