Semiconductor Startups: It's Never Too Early to Start IPLM
When it comes to early stage semiconductor startups, it’s never too early to adopt proper IP lifecycle management tools and processes.
Why? You have to be successful right out of the gate — because the cost of failure is too high.
After the first design is done successfully, the pressure is on for follow-up designs — with higher expectations and a shorter time-to-market. This is where you see semiconductor startups begin to falter.
If you don’t organize your design practices and understand all of the IP that goes into design, you’re faced with numerous challenges: slower delivery, lack of traceability, and costly respins.
In this blog, we discuss best practices for semiconductor startups and why it’s never too early to get started correctly with IPLM.
Cost of Failure
As mentioned above, semiconductor design needs to be done correctly because the cost of failure is simply too high.
How high? It takes an average $250+ million investment just to get started. If it doesn’t work correctly, a respin (design correction and re-fabrication) is long and costly – to the tune of around $25 million per respin.
What causes respins? The problems often stem from specifications: either incomplete specifications or changing specifications that don’t get communicated to the design teams.
The root of these problems is a lack of trace of traceability, managing the process of moving from design specifications, through design, to verification and validation.
Why is traceability important? It is paramount that this type of information is made available and disseminated to the design team so they always have access to the latest information, most updated IP, and ensure everything is related so they have the right IP and correct set of specifications to go along with it.
Tips For Semiconductor Startups
The first tip is you cannot try to manage semiconductor design with a disconnected process. You can’t have a set of requirements disconnected from design specifications and functional verification plans, and then have those distributed to design teams without traceability of who is working on what.
If there is a change, that change has to propagate globally through all aspects of design. How do you achieve that? Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or standalone requirements management systems aren’t sufficient.
The answer is an IP lifecycle management system which treats all information as metadata. With this metadata, it is known exactly what changes impact who (and how it impacts them). Don’t rely on static documents – you need a dynamic system, like a fully traceable IP lifecycle management platform, to process all this information.
The second tip is the idea of everything you do should be considered “IP” and needs to be managed. Whether its design, a script, set of synthesis parameters, all of these pieces (and their supporting information) need to be managed as part of the design process.
Rather than being thought of as secondary, all of this IP should be treated as primary information that is as worthy of management as the design IP itself. Why? Later on you may try to reuse this IP. If you lost track of all the work that went into making it work, then you have a piece of IP that needs to be recreated all over again.
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