As a society entrenched in connectivity, we put a great deal of pressure on our portable electronic devices to provide us with more and more computing power and capabilities. Take this blog for example. As I’m traveling, I’m actually writing this blog post on my smart phone. To write this effectively, I need to be able to easily flip back and forth between PowerPoint, Word, and the Internet while still answering emails and the occasional phone call. The fact that my mobile device is able to handle all of these requests with no errors is astonishing given that just a few short years ago, this idea was just “pie in the sky”. The computation complexities that make this possible are staggering. But what is also staggering, is that even more complex designs are being created in ever shrinking time-to-market windows. How do system and SOC companies remain competitive with these seemingly unrealistic expectations?
There are, of course, a myriad of answers to that question, but a critical facet is the use of third-party IP. More and more companies must adopt third-party IP so that they can focus their design on their companies’ core competence. Outsourcing other, proven, capabilities to IP providers saves a great deal of time, energy, and money. However, the use of this third-party IP also introduces new challenges for interface specification, integration, and verification of SoCs on a large scale. These challenges, if not addressed properly, can eliminate any of the productivity gains thought to be realized with the use of third-party IP.