secure collaboration semiconductor design
July 6, 2022

Secure Collaboration for Chip Design in Cloud Environments

Security & Compliance
IP Lifecycle Management

In the past, semiconductor organizations have not leveraged cloud options as much as other industries. But as cloud adoption continues to increase, many are looking to see how they can leverage chip design software in the cloud. If you have just started looking at AWS semiconductor or Azure semiconductor solutions, start here to learn more about what to consider when it comes to your tools.

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Cloud Chip Design Software Challenges

When it comes to designing in the cloud, there are a handful of challenges teams must overcome, including IP security concerns, lack of tools, data replication, and user adoption.

Security Concerns

In traditional chip design, there were three dimensions: performance, power, and size. But now there is a fourth dimension — security. This historically has been the biggest barrier for cloud adoption.

Because when an organization begins working on a chip, they will not only make decisions based on the first three dimensions, but also consider the desired security level as one of their design constraints. 

In considering IP security, it is useful to think in terms of why individuals would want to engage in a security attack on a semiconductor company, which essentially boil down to four main motivators:

To combat these issues, in any environment but specifically the cloud, it is vital to have fine-grained access controls and to secure boundaries around certain pockets of technology to avoid IP contamination. While cloud providers have helped to address these issues, it becomes more of an issue with specific tools in your stack.

Lack of Tools and Licenses

EDA tools have not always been available in the cloud. It was an issue getting licenses and even more of a hassle to manually deploy and manage an instance.

But today, many chip design software companies are offering cloud-ready options. Some even have hosted solutions so that designers can access the tools.

Large, Local Datasets

Even if tools are available in the cloud, one of the biggest challenges is that AWS semiconductor solutions and Azure semiconductor solutions still cannot replicate the amount of data required in semiconductor design. EDA tools still rely heavily on shared file systems. This is where things slow down. Very few tools can be containerized for the cloud. And even if you can get your chip design software into the cloud, you still must train your teams on this new technology.

User Adoption

Most engineers and academic researchers are not accustomed to using cloud-based environments to do their work. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your environment feels like a traditional on-prem solution. When the user logs into the cloud, they are still in their own area, can view their team and resources, and have a space that is private and not visible to others. But there is also a shared area with several tools that everyone has access to.

This ideal solution is not usually representative of a true chip design environment. Designers are usually emailing and digging through file systems. If you only move some data to the cloud, you could be complicating this issue.

Regardless of challenges, in today’s environment, cloud adoption is increasing. So how can you prepare your organization to take the leap?

Protect Your IP in an Evolving Landscape

Chip design moving into the cloud is just one example of a change you organization could make. With processes and workflows regularly shifting, learn how to keep your IP secure no matter what. Our IP Security in an Uncertain World webinar covers how to meet security regulations in any scenario. 


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Where Are You At In Your Cloud Journey?

Different semiconductor companies have unique reasons to move chip design into the cloud.

Semiconductor Startups

Startups and small companies often have a desire to be cloud native. This allows them to ramp up and down quickly without the overhead of investing in expensive hardware or human resources. For many, hosted solutions also provide a way to not manage their own IP infrastructure.

Looking for enterprise-level, cloud-ready tools? Check out the Semiconductor Starter Pack.

Mid-Size Semiconductor Organizations

For larger organizations that already have existing data centers, cloud provides an option for burst workflows. Teams get all the flexibility without needing to upgrade hardware or deal with IP bottlenecks. This offers organizations a faster and easier way to scale.

Large Enterprises

For large enterprises, design teams are constantly pushing the limits of IT. But with the cloud, they now have an alternative. Quick bursts into the cloud can help teams break through these barriers. But compared to startups and mid-size organizations, enterprises are still early in their cloud journey. This is because they often have too much data and IP dependencies that would be expensive to manage in the cloud.

Although still in its infancy, enterprises are experimenting more with cloud options. Some are stretching their clusters and testing resources.

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Get Your Organization AWS Semiconductor and Azure Semiconductor Solution Ready

To migrate to the cloud successfully, you need tools that can:

  • Allow you to granularly manage access.
  • Replicate around the globe.
  • Provide designers and developers a user-friendly platform for collaboration.
  • Manage large datasets.

Perforce Semiconductor Solutions enhance your cloud deployment with IP lifecycle management (Helix IPLM) and data management (Helix Core) solutions. This creates a foundation for secure collaboration. Users and assets can be shared across teams and projects with fine-grained permissions based on role and geographical location. You can replicate around the globe and be assured that people only have access the IP they are allowed to access. And team members who want to know what’s going on with a certain IP -- where it's been accessed, what projects it's been added to -- can sign up for notifications.

Perforce cloud-ready solutions are trusted by 9 of the top 10 semiconductor companies to help ensure that design teams are able to work efficiently, while maintaining full traceability, no matter the source of the IP.

Connect with one of our IP experts to learn how Perforce can help you on your cloud journey. You can get answers to your questions and gain access to evaluation resources.


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