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Archive for February, 2014

Sonics: IP Pricing and Protocols

Thursday, February 27th, 2014


It makes it worthwhile to show up for work on days when you get to have a conversation with people like the folks of Sonics, a System IP vendor based in Silicon Valley. Articulate and knowledgeable, they have a nuanced understanding of how the IP business works, its challenges and opportunities.

When I spoke to them last week about my ongoing project to assemble IP for the chip in my Dick Tracy keychain, President & CEO Grant Pierce and VP of Operations Raymond Brinks were both on the call. We started by talking about how IP is priced.

Per Pierce: “The conditions under which various customers buy and use IP can be quite different. We have some customers who are fairly sophisticated. We sell [such customers] licensed IP, offer some initial training, and then off they go. After that, apart from an occasional email, we have little contact with them. There are customers, however, who are opposite in the extreme.


MyDesign: CAST clarifies vendor/customer relationship

Thursday, February 13th, 2014


At last month’s DesignCon in Santa Clara, I went looking for some IP advice to help in assembling the bits and pieces for my Dick Tracy key chain/wristband design project. I got no farther than the CAST booth, because those guys had answers to all of my questions.

After an hour-long conversation with CEO Hal Barbour, COO Nikos Zervas, and PR & Media Rep Paul Lindemann, I’m quite sure no IP company, small and large, could be better at partnering with a product team looking for IP selection guidance.

We first discussed the processor core; CAST sells an 8-bit family and a 32-bit. After listening to the features required in my product – keyless entry and ignition for the car, remote control of the garage door, monitoring the amounts of milk in the fridge, and telling the time – the CAST guys said an 8-bit core would provide sufficient horsepower for the sensing, calculation and control features I described, even in the face of the mixed-signal, ADC demands of the product.

They also noted that the 8051 is by far CAST’s most popular core and useful to people working on Internet-of-Things ideas, particularly if WiFi features are not needed. With WiFi, a 32-bit processor probably makes better sense.

I asked about a price point for the core I would use. From research I’ve been doing in anticipation of my Dick Tracy design, I know that prices for IP cores are usually as closely guarded as Edward Snowden’s forwarding address. Hal Barbour said that CAST has always been pretty open about that: “Depending on the configuration, our 8-bit core will cost you somewhere between $30, 000 and $50,000.”


S2C: FPGA Base prototyping- Download white paper

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