Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
REUSE 2016: Addressing the Four Freedoms
November 24th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
There are four major issues that haunt the IP industry, four freedoms demanded by the diverse, global customer base that buys from the IP industry. If REUSE 2016 wants to become the forum for those who provide IP to those customers, all four of these issues need to be addressed on December 1st in one way or another.
No. 1) Has the IP that’s been procured for integration into a design been adequately vetted? Can customers be assured a particular block of IP will be more help than a hindrance in getting a design completed quickly, into production, and out into the market?
The environment within which a block of IP is supposed to function is so influential, it may actually overwhelm whatever good might be had from using that block. Has the IP been used in any environments similar to that of the pending project and, if so, are there clever strategies, or even workarounds, useful to using that IP? How can the IP vendor, especially the smaller, less-well-established vendors, provide answers and reassurance to their customers regarding these concerns?
No. 2) A related but separate issue: How prepared does an IP vendor need to be to provide design services? Often such services can prove critical to the success of integrating a vendor’s block of IP into a project.
Without the ability to provide expert design services, an IP vendor may find itself struggling to answer numerous ad-hoc questions that arise as the customer’s design team attempts to use that provider’s IP. And those questions can come at any hour of the day or night via phone calls, emails, texts – or even in some cases, as questions posted on social media asking for crowd-sourced help. Clearly, if those questions include negative reviews of the IP vendor it can be a real buzz killer, especially if they include comments about the vendor’s inability or unwillingness to respond to problems directly.
No. 3) The flip side of issue No. 2: Should an IP vendor be providing design services and/or tools that make it difficult, or appear to be difficult, for a customer to use design services or design tools from other vendors should they so choose?
In other words, does purchasing a block of IP from a particular vendor precipitate lock-in for the customer, giving them no choice but to purchase that vendor’s other offerings, tools, or services? When does the customer get to cry foul if they feel the vendor has co-opted any opportunity for the customer to reach out to a wide set of vendors for IP and tools, and the services needed to implement a design? How and when does the IP vendor assure customers that these concerns are unfounded?
No. 4) The most difficult problem facing the semiconductor industry toady is security: Security of proprietary designs during the product development phase. Security of the manufactured end-product and confidence it won’t be reverse-engineered, copied, and sold at below-market rates by nefarious competitors. Security for the end-product in the environment within which it operates; can it be hacked or otherwise altered to mislead, spy on, or other harm users of the final system?
All of these security concerns – proprietary design info, design theft during manufacturing, and security of the final product – are all relevant to the IP industry, no matter which category of IP a vendor is selling into. Today’s IP vendor must be ready to reassure all customers that the ‘black box’ IP block they are buying does not contain any kind of back door, trap door, malware, or cunning features that could put the eventual end-product/system in jeopardy.
So there they are: the Four Freedoms customers of the IP industry demand.
* Freedom from ignorance
Clearly, it’s no small feat to be able to prosper as an IP vendor when your customers feel free to demand all of this. But then, no one ever said playing in the IP industry would easy.
In today’s world of complex designs and even-more-complex commercial and geo-political pressures, the customers know what they need and it’s up to the 450+ IP vendors across the globe to try to meet those needs.
Which brings the discussion back to REUSE 2016. If the agenda for the day-long meeting on December 1st in Silicon Valley successfully touches on all Four Freedoms listed here, the conference will live up to its promise. It will become the singular venue, going forward, for discussing the things that really matter to the brave souls who provide design blocks to an IP-hungry world.
Register here if you want to attend on December 1st.
It’s taking place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
* True Circuits
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