why IP design is important
March 26, 2021

Why IP Design Is Important: IP Integration in SoC

IP Lifecycle Management

Intellectual property — or IP — is critical in semiconductor development. In this blog, we break down what intellectual property (IP) is, why IP design that follows best practices is important, and how to make your semiconductor design IP-centric. In this blog, we discuss:

What Is Design IP?

Design IP refers to the intellectual property core used in system on chip (SoC) design. Design IP is essentially a piece of the overall SoC design.

SoC design has changed dramatically in recent years. Previously, you would have significant amounts of unique internal design and maybe small amounts of external IP that was either purchased or acquired through other means. Today, the majority of the SoC is internal and third-party IP integrated with a small amount of highly-differentiated product-specific design. 

This has also lead to the enablement of platform-based design, where a family of products is based off of a single design, with only small customizations to differentiate the products in the family. Not only are the platforms easier to design with only small customization needed, the fact that the core functionality can be assembled from already available IP allows them to be introduced to market quickly.

As a result, top semiconductor companies have begun to place a high value on how these IPs are managed, configured, and integrated.

Explore In-Depth IP Design With the Technical White Paper
Our technical white paper — Benefits of IP-Centric Design — details how to use Helix IPLM (formerly Methodics IPLM) to manage design IPs. Get access to this technical white paper and learn about all of the benefits of IP-centric design with Helix IPLM.

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Why Is IP Design Important?

IP design is important now more than ever as consumer demands require quick product development. The ecosystem has grown complex to accommodate internal and external IP. The introduction of SoC architectures has also made IP design even more significant. 

IP is critical to the overall SoC design, which is continually evolving. Risk is paramount. You must embrace a structured IP design approach — or you’ll face unacceptable levels of risk for your overall SoC design.

A single bad IP is all it takes to break your SoC.  

And you can’t risk that. That’s why it’s time to take an end-to-end view of your IPs. You must manage their entire lifecycle and usage in a transparent, traceable manner, using an IP lifecycle management solution like Helix IPLM.

This calls for an IP-centric view of design.

Related blog: Lifecycle Management 101

How to Make Semiconductor Design IP-Centric

Since IPs are taking a more central role in the semiconductor design process, it is a good idea to manage the entire design as a collection of IPs.

Here’s how you can make your design center around IP.

1. Define IP

First, what’s an IP? In Helix IPLM, an IP is anything that enables design. 

This includes blocks of design that are traditionally considered IP:

  • Functional blocks purchased and used without modification from third party vendors.
  • Functional blocks designed by central teams within your enterprise.

This also includes less traditional IP design blocks, such as regular blocks of design created specifically for the projects. You can even treat scripts or the CAD environment as an IP in the project. 

But IP is more than just files, an IP is:

  • The collection of design files for hardware, firmware, and software.
  • The meta data associated with each IP.

Meta data must be federated from the silos that it is usually kept in and associated with the IP building blocks of the design.

To get started, you’ll want to define your design IPs.

2. Build Hierarchical Dependencies

Once you’ve defined your IPs, you’ll need to build hierarchical dependencies. This means that each IP can have other IPs as dependencies. 

For instance, in Helix IPLM, you’ll have:

  • A top IP.
  • A set of subsystem IPs.
  • Dependencies of the subsystem IPs.

3. Unify Data Management

Finally, you’ll want to integrate and unify your IP design with your data management system. 

Given the diverse nature of the design community — and diverse needs of your project — you may have multiple data management systems in play. Some, like Git, might be used by design teams who need easy collaboration. But they don’t scale well beyond source code. 

Helix Core, for instance, works well with large binary files and cross-site replication — plus it scales to meet the demands of growing companies and teams. Plus, Helix Core offers a path to unify data management and bring Git projects into your pipeline via Helix4Git

Plus, Helix Core and Helix4Git are fully integrated with Helix IPLM. 

For instance:

  • Helix IPLM manages the complex file relationships found in semiconductor designs. 
  • Helix Core handles the large binary files and millions of files that are common in EDA tools.
  • Helix4Git can be added to any Git environment to improve performance and seamlessly scale to support growing, global Git teams.

Together, these tools provide a powerful solution to integrate and unify your IP-centric design with your data management system. 

Follow IP-Centric Design With Helix IPLM

Helix IPLM offers the best way to ensure IP-centric design for semiconductors and accelerate time-to-market.

With Helix IPLM, you can:

  • Manage the complete IP lifecycle.
  • Integrate IP design with data management.
  • Manage workspaces and automate meta data collection.
  • Create a single Bill of Materials (BoM) of all design IP.

Plus, Helix IPLM offers IP release tracking, a robust IP catalog, support for analog and digital IP, parent-child aware defect tracking, automatic notifications, and customization with a RESTful API.

Get in touch with one of our experts today. We’ll provide you with our white papers and other resources — like Benefits of IP-Centric Design — and provide guidance on how Helix IPLM will help your business. 

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