Introduction

Chip development cycles are compressed, leaving teams to execute more in less time. To keep up, enterprises need to ensure that IPs can more easily be found and reused. And today, IP reuse is not just confined to within an organization.

The rise of codevelopment and use of third-party teams has emphasized the need to safely share and reuse IP. How can IP reuse be optimized both in and outside an enterprise? This white paper covers key challenges — and how to conquer them. 


Expanding Market Creates an Explosion of IP Assets

With over 1 trillion chips shipped, global semiconductor sales totaled $481 billion in 2018. And despite slower growth in 2019, the market is expected to grow to $572 billion annually by the end of 2022.

New semiconductor applications are emerging every day — IoT applications, self-driving cars, consumer electronics, connected medical devices, and more. Chips are not just in our everyday devices. They are also the building blocks for future tech that we will not be able to live without. 


Demands From a Connected Market

A big driver for the industry is the exponential growth of big data/artificial intelligence (AI) applications and the adoption of 5G technologies. Both of these areas require increasingly connected and expanding infrastructures.

Verizon and Walmart recently announced a partnership to deploy 5G in stores. One justification for this initiative is in-store healthcare applications, such as telemedicine. Connecting patients to a cardiac stress test in-store — with a physician watching at a remote site — makes healthcare more accessible. Another reason for this expansion is the sheer demand for consumer connectivity inside and outside the store. It is becoming clear that adoption of 5G is going to be much more rapid than prior generations.

With so much relying on this data, there is a growing demand for newer, faster semiconductor chips. To keep up, OEMs need system-on-chips (SoCs) and numerous other ancillary integrated circuits (ICs) to incorporate into their designs. These chips will support computing, advanced networking, and share massive amounts of data in real time. 

Leveraging IP Within Enterprises

As chips become more complex, the need for reusable and pre-verified IP blocks is amplified. It is a key differentiator that has the potential to increase development velocity.

Chips are not the only thing evolving. The processes and participants involved in designing them are also changing. Teams are bigger and are located around the globe. Although IPs have always been reused, the explosion of hardware and software assets is overwhelming for any team. Searching for an asset can waste time and decrease the likelihood for reuse. 

Challenges and Opportunities Using Third-Party IP

But IPs are not just being reused internally. Companies are expanding horizontally and increasing partnerships with former competitors. The goal is no longer to protect against copying, but instead make it profitable.

Codevelopment and licensing IP cores have opened up new financial opportunities for IP suppliers. Leveraging IP partnerships for reuse has the potential to reduce cost across all stages of development and manufacturing.

For companies supplying IPs, it is a great new market. Depending on the complexity, development cost, and unit opportunity, IP license fees and royalties can net $100,000 to $1 million. And for OEMs, they can leverage a vast network of IP suppliers. Using license vendors, open source vendors, aggregators, and customer partnerships helps save on design resources.

But leveraging the global semiconductor market has added a layer of complexity when it comes to safely sharing and reusing. Enterprises need to find a way protect IPs, while still giving external teams access to the data they need to capitalize on IP licenses. 


Challenges Maximizing IP Reuse

Accelerating development cycles requires optimizing access to IPs. It may seem like a simple concept, but there are several challenges. 

Teams Need to Collaborate Globally

Analog and digital development requires bringing together teams of designers, manufacturing engineers, and software developers. These teams often include in-house teams, contractors, and partners located around the globe. Once all IPs are selected, it is important to organize access to those assets for other teams to be able to use them.

Collaboration issues are compounded as teams scale. Removing traditional silos is an important goal. And third parties and partners need to easily retrieve the specific files they need, without getting an open-door invitation to an entire database or software repository. Teams executing on a deadline don’t have time to spend days identifying which assets to send. And partners should not be left waiting days for terabytes of data to download.

How do globally dispersed teams reuse IP?

Teams struggle to determine who has the IP, and whether it is appropriate for their project. They spend time emailing and running around looking for files.

So, what does that mean for enterprises? A 100-person design team at 70% productivity can deliver 2,800 hours of value per week (based on a 40-hour week). If even 20% of that time is spent looking for IPs, it wastes an estimated $5.5 million. 

Without a way to categorize and search through a vast number of IPs quickly, teams are left waiting and searching. 

$5.5 million

Teams Need to Protect IPs

SoCs and ICs — as well as the software that powers them — have become the most valuable assets of any tech company or OEM. Whether teams are building autonomous vehicles, defense technology, IoT devices, medical devices, consumer technology products, or spacecraft, they need to secure IPs. To protect these assets, it is vital to build defenses, while granting permissions to teams so they have seamless access.

As partnerships and codevelopment are utilized more frequently, it is important to secure third-party access, without giving everything away. Securing IP is also an important element for traceability.

To create traceability administrators first need to establish who gets access. Then IPs can be tracked as they are used. Sysops can also implement monitoring. This helps eliminate opportunities for hackers. 

How can enterprises protect against bad behavior
from employees and outside threats?

For many enterprises, projects are broken up into a variety of systems. This creates several issues for ease of use, as well as security and traceability.

Enterprises need to grant access to teams across networks and systems. This may expose a lot of sensitive data that should not be available to everyone on a team. It also makes monitoring who accessed what, and when, more difficult.

Without robust infrastructure security, assets may be left exposed. Hackers have more opportunities to access IPs. And internal teams may be able to access valuable information they do not need for their projects.

Teams Need to Reuse Hardware and Software Files

The increasing number of digital assets created –– and potentially reused –– include source code and binaries for software, and EDA, VHDL, and Verilog files for hardware.

Many enterprises end up using multiple systems, like shared drives and source code management, to store and track these files. Having separate systems for each type of file makes it difficult for teams to find, let alone reuse. It also complicates packaging all the files needed for manufactures.

How can teams reuse both code and hardware files?

For semiconductor teams, there is often not one system. Without a single source of truth engineers are spinning their wheels looking for what they need on separate interfaces, drives, or SANs (Storage Area Networks). This costs in terms of productivity, time, and frustration.

To get the biggest productivity gain, it is important have one system that encompasses every part of a project. This allows teams to reuse smaller files — not just entire complex designs. These have the largest opportunity for reuse. But for large enterprises, there are potentially millions of these available. Without an organized library of files that can be more easily shared and leveraged across teams, IP reuse is unnecessarily costly. 

Teams Need Built-In Integrations

Creating chips requires a variety of tools to support everyone on a team. Depending on the role, one or more individuals may use:

  • Methodics Percipient
  • Methodics VersIC
  • IC Manage
  • MathWorks Matlab/Simulink

Having a data management system that supports every part of the development process keeps teams aligned. It also helps them find and reuse IPs easier.

It is not just internal teams that need to be supported. As organizations work with clients and other external teams, there could be exponentially more people contributing to this process.

How can enterprises support everyone to optimize IP reuse?

With all of these files being managed and created in a variety of systems, it is difficult to integrate designers and developers. Without a single source of truth for digital assets, teams are left searching for the right IP to reuse.

Teams are less productive when there is no common platform to support their development workflow. This also impacts the likelihood IPs will be made available for reuse. 


Develop a Reusable IP Platform

To make IP reuse a well-defined and adopted practice, teams need a data management platform that unites software and hardware. Version control can be that platform. It stores data — and all the versions of digital assets — while providing controlled access.

Version control is not new to developers, but it might be relatively new to IC designers. It can be used to store, version, and optimize files for release and reuse. As other industries beyond semiconductor start reusing files, it will only become increasingly important to help accelerate development.

But not all version control systems provide the same benefits.

Helix Core — version control from Perforce — is the ideal data management solution for global teams. It can dramatically improve productivity and team collaboration by providing a secure way to manage, store, track, control, and distribute IPs. 

Efficient IP reuse requires Helix Core to:

  • Enhance global collaboration.
  • Secure assets and track IPs. 
  • Organize and version all digital assets.
  • Provide integration with popular tools.

Because more than just semiconductor companies are reusing IPs. Embedded development across industries –– like automotive, AI, and IoT — are also leveraging IPs to get to market faster.

Enhance Global Collaboration

Enterprises need version control that is easily accessible around the globe. Easier access creates a seamless process for teams and promotes IP reuse. 

For all of these teams, Helix Core offers advanced replication technology for enterprises to set up servers at all their faculties. This includes their partnerships and outsourced teams. Perforce Federated Architecture keeps these remote servers in sync with master servers. Everyone –– with the correct permissions –– can have the access to the latest version of the files they need through a local connection.

helix core map

Helix Core allows everyone on a team to feel
like they are located in the same room. 

By replicating servers, enterprises get unified source of truth across teams, creating an internal catalog for available IPs. They can set up as many servers as necessary, including in a preferred cloud provider, on premise, or in a private data center. 

Teams can access projects and associated files easier, eliminating the time spent searching.

Secure Assets and Track IPs 

Supporting both collaboration and security can be difficult for enterprises. There is a need to track changes for hardware designs and software, while locking down IPs.

Helix Core allows enterprises to defend their IPs by continuously monitoring access, while promoting reuse.

To grant access to internal teams — while eliminating unwanted security threats — Helix Core integrates with enterprise identity access management tools, like Ping and Okta. Admins can control access down to the individual file level by username, network address, or workstation in Helix Core. This is a critical security feature that protects valuable IP. 

Organizations do not need to worry that someone is out there with an entire copy of a repository. And for global teams, files can be encrypted in transit and at rest, ensuring IPs are always protected.

Organize and Version All Digital Assets

Having a data management system that creates a single source of truth increases a teams’ ability to reuse code, binaries, and designs. But most version control systems only have the ability to store and version code. 

Helix Core versions and manages source code, digital files, large binary files, and all other digital assets.

Unlike source code management systems, which are optimized to only handle text files and source code, Helix Core versions it all, including large binary files. Being able to store and version all digital assets associated with chip design creates new opportunities for reuse. Designers, engineers, and software developers can access everything they need and more easily incorporate it into their project.

Using Helix Core for data management creates a standing library for millions of files, of all different types. When it comes to delivering files to manufacturers, teams have one source for all associated files. 

Support Teams and Their Tools

Semiconductor teams use a variety of tools. To support how teams work, Helix Core integrates with the tools already use. This increases IP reuse by creating it a seamless experience for everyone on a team.

Helix Core is the data management platform that offers integrations for engineers, designers, and developers.

The world’s largest semiconductor companies use Helix Core and Methodics. This combination makes designs more efficient, predictable, and higher quality. Helix Core integrates with Percipient to manage the complex file relationships found in semiconductor designs. And it works with VersIC to manage Cadence libraries, Verilog, Ocean scripts, software, documents, and other design assets.

Helix Core handles the large binary files –– and millions of files –– that are common using electronic design automation (EDA) tools. Helix Core also works with Git. Now software development teams can use their own favorite tools to develop ICs and SoCs. Their work is safely stored in the same data management environment as IPs. 


Conquer IP Reuse With Helix Core

IP reuse is all about leveraging existing information and distributing it to the teams that need it. Reusing IPs is the best way to get to the market faster.

You can reuse IP easier across your enterprise, external development teams, and partners with Helix Core.

Using Helix Core optimizes IP reuse by enhancing global collaboration, while securely delivering files. It creates the foundation for your new data management ecosystem. Helix Core seamlessly fits into your existing workflow by supporting every member of your team, and eliminates costly bottlenecks.


Its why 9 out of 10 of the world’s largest semiconductor companies choose Helix Core to secure and support IP reuse. Ready to get started?

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