Standards - IP Arena


QIP came out last year. It was a very flat spreadsheet. We got some feedback that it was intimidating and hard to use. We went through a lot of effort to convey the information to the person that needs it and to make it much easier for the provider so that it wasn't an onerous process to go through. Once you fill out the vendor qualification portion, that's it. It is done unless something major happens to your company. The developer portion is what is done on a standard basis. So this would be filled out once per design group. The only questions that a vendor needs to complete on an IP by IP basis are the integrator questions. It makes it much easier for integrators to evaluate IP. They can start at a high level. If they decide that they don't want to do business with a particular vendor, they don't have to spend a lot of time looking at the IP specific information. The more interested they get, the deeper they can look into the details.

One of the big points I want to make about QIP is that although it gives you a score, the absolute number doesn't have as much meaning as the information that is conveyed in QIP. It is meant to be a communication mechanism to highlight where the stumbling blocks may be using the IP so that you can develop a migration plan upfront and really be able to scope the work as opposed to running along normally and hitting a bring wall and having to wait for the vendor to get back to you. It's really intended to ease the process from the beginning.

QIP is a self-scoring evaluation.
The IP provider fills it out. The questions are weighted so that there are imperatives. These are things that the group felt if they were not meant, the IP would be virtually unusable or very difficult to reuse. Any imperative that is not meant is highlighted and is going to be immediately obvious to the integrator. We have gotten a lot of good feedback on it. Before we released it, it went through a substantial beta program where we partnered providers and integrators together to use QIP on a piece of IP and give us feedback on whether it really did relate and convey the integration experience and on how useful it was.

End user comments, evaluations and feedback are not part of the QIP. It's vendor input only.
Right! We don't have an Amazon feedback form. Everything in the QIP should be quantifiable. There was a big effort to ensure the questions were not subject to interpretation. There could be proof behind them. You need a lot of trials or documentation. It really doesn't make sense for vendors to stretch the truth because it is going to come back and bite them. It is available on the VSIA website if you want to check it out.

Editor:
The VSI Alliance calls its working groups pillars. Currently there are four pillars: IP Quality, IP Protection, IP Transfer and Research & Development. Creation of a Pillar requires committed interest from at least four large industry companies. Each Pillar addresses both technical and commercial solutions to IP integration and reuse.
The IP Quality Pillar defines the essential Quality Attributes of any IP core required to make it properly functional and efficiently reusable in SoCs; creates a VSIA Quality Metric to motivate the use and measure the presence of these Quality Attributes

The IP Protection Pillar defines, documents, and demonstrates open, interoperable, standards-based solutions and promotes awareness of IP protection schemes and practices that balance the necessary level of security with customer usability of IP to foster the proliferation of design reuse.

The IP Transfer Pillar provides standards facilitating the exchange of IP between consumers and providers. Key goals of the Pillar include IP design flow automation, incremental IP delivery and IP directory structure remapping.

The R&D Pillar is committed to studying and determining the future direction (three to five years out) of challenges facing the industry, such as IP valuation, ultra-large block reuse, design for manufacture, signal integrity, verification of implementation, analog firm, hardware-dependent software, platform-based design, and other key long-term issues as they are identified
The IP Protection Pillar is working on Tagging.
Yes! There are two specifications for tagging already released from VSIA. There is one for soft tagging (Virtual Component Identification Soft IP Tagging Standard) and another for hard tagging (Virtual Component Identification Physical Tagging Standard). There is a new version of hard tagging that should be released soon. A tool to support this will also be released. There are a lot of uses for tags. They have been adopted by several of the foundries. I can't speak for all of them but I know several of them are using them. There are a couple of really good reasons to use them. The assurance that you are using the correct version and the correct configuration management that all the files you are using are the actual files that you are supposed to be using. The there is also providence in being able to track the history of the IP for bug tracking, for yield or for whatever other application you may come up with. Probably the most important to some people is the identification of ownership. This can be used for revenue. At Freescale we use the tags heavily for identifying the source, i.e. which of IP partners, where it actually came from when it goes through the fab.

You really can't protect IP, if you are giving it away. Once it leaves your hands, it is difficult to perfectly protect it. But we are trying to come with ways to detect and prevent either inadvertent or malicious changes. Tagging at this point is really a trust issue. Watermarking and fingerprinting are areas where we are actively pursuing. This is something where we have been in discussion with academia to see if there is any research we can leverage. There is a lot of work going on.

Future plans for VSIA?
The template for a standard is a four to six months beta program following a six to eight month development effort. Our tentative schedule subject to board approval has
QIP - Soft IP & Vendor Evaluation released QIP - Hard IP approaching beta. This is a collaborative effort with FSA QIP - Verification just started BoM - Soft IP & Verification Package beginning now BoM - Hard IP beginning in October
We are not going to kick off work until we have enough resources in place to actually work on it.

Does VSIA have any relationship with IEEE?
At this point I am not sure that we have anything that makes sense to submit to IEEE. QIP is not a static document. It is not only being extended for different types of IP but its methodologies and technologies change. It is going to need maintenance and updates. I don't see it as something that can have as long a lifecycle as some of the specs coming out of IEEE. Truthfully, it is not something that has made sense for us up to now. I am not saying we will never do it. But at this point we don't have the right content.



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