Design Reuse Comes Down To Collaboration

June 21, 2007
Four experts portray an industry rallying around emerging IP standards and formats.

Of all the areas in which the EDA industry has forged standardization efforts, perhaps none has seen more success than those in promoting intellectual-property (IP) reuse. Whereas other standards efforts in EDA have fragmented the industry rather than bringing it together around common interests, the efforts to create a standards-based infrastructure for IP have managed, for the most part, to avoid hijacks by any single entity's selfish motivations.

In fact, three industry organizations have been at the vanguard of driving standardization—the Open Core Protocol-International Partnership (OCP-IP), the SPIRIT Consortium, and the VSI Alliance (VSIA).

OCP-IP drives adoption of its Open Core Protocol, a socket interface specification that enables comprehensive, standardized definitions of a semiconductor IP core's unique on-chip interfaces. OCP is not a single definition. Instead, it provides the ability to capture all of a core's signals without imposing limitations on the interaction of the core with a system.

The SPIRIT Consortium has made its most significant mark through the IP-XACT specification, which provides for the importing of complex IP bundles into system-on-a-chip (SoC) design tool sets and exchanging design descriptions between tools. An application-programming interface (API) for querying and writing to IP-XACT databases also is provided as part of the IP-XACT specifications.

VSIA has divided its efforts among three fronts: IP quality, IP protection, and IP transfer. Of these, the IP Quality initiative has been most significant. The well-adopted VSIA Quality IP (QIP) Metric includes quality attributes for soft, hard, and, with the recent release of version 4.0 of the QIP Metric, verification IP. The metric ensures that IP vendors and integrators are speaking a common language in their efforts to communicate efficiently. The QIP Metric version 4.0 is downloadable at

The three Q&As that follow (ED Online 15773, 15774, 15775) represent a cross-section of thought about the status of design-reuse initiatives:

  • Chris Lennard (see photo), director of divisional marketing for ARM's development systems, sees the future of design reuse centering on configurable IP and an infrastructure in which the IP itself, and the tools used to design with it, are far more tightly integrated.
  • Gary Delp (see photo), Distinguished Engineer at LSI Logic and chief technology officer of VSIA (as well as a SPIRIT Consortium board member), discusses the latest developments in standardization at both VSIA and SPIRIT.
  • Ian Mackintosh (see photo), president of OCP-IP, and John Swanson (see photo) , senior manager in the Solutions Group at Synopsys, team up to emphasize the importance of industry collaboration in the formation of standards impacting design reuse.

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