FSA Announces Availability of Hard Intellectual Property (IP) Quality Risk Assessment Tool Version 1.2

SAN JOSE, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—February 13, 2007— FSA, the global voice of the fabless business model, announces the availability of its Hard IP Quality Risk Assessment Tool version 1.2. This tool is the first deliverable in the FSA IP ecosystem Tool Suite addressing the pain points of IP integration.

The Suite offers productivity tools to enable more efficient communication between IP vendors, IP integrators - fabless companies and integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) - as well as foundries. It enables evaluation of the risk and applicability of hard IP across the design process - from pre-purchase to licensing to process technology selection to manufacturability - all areas critical for design, yield and tape-out success.

The IPe tools create effective communication:

-- Enabling integrators to ask appropriate questions.

-- Allowing a structured and weighted approach to vendor responses.

-- Providing a qualitative, yet effective, method for answer assessment.

FSA Hard IP Quality Risk Assessment Tool

The first tool in the Suite, the FSA Hard IP Quality Risk Assessment Tool, collects information about an IP vendor, its design methodology and the IP under evaluation, to enable risk assessment across seven criteria: IP design, integration, verification, process technology, product documentation, reliability and test.

Key features of this tool include:

-- A minimal number of questions to be answered by vendors.

-- A methodology to accurately and objectively allow an integrator or foundry to assess the IP and IP family.

-- A comparison capability to allow findings and completed questionnaires to be weighted against up to 20 different pieces of IP.

Usage models include:

-- Third-party IP evaluation and comparison for integrators.

-- Evaluation of IP quality within IP repositories such as foundry IP programs.

-- Internal IP reuse evaluation for fabless companies or vendors that create their own IP.

Representatives from industry-leading semiconductor, foundry, electronic design automation (EDA) and semiconductor IP (SIP) companies have collaborated to create this industry best practices tool. With industry adoption, the overall quality of hard IP cores will improve, lowering the cost of IP integration and decreasing time spent evaluating hard cores, making the process more cost effective and efficient.

"Accelerating time-to-market, reducing costs and minimizing risks are key factors all semiconductor companies are concerned with as they develop their products," said Jim Ensell, chairman of FSA's IP Subcommittee. "The work FSA has done to develop the Hard IP Quality Risk Assessment Tool directly addresses these key issues. Vendors should be pleased to participate in and support these efforts that will help companies proceed with confidence as they increasingly look to third-party IP suppliers to help them meet their SoC design challenges."

FSA's Hard IP Working Group has developed the FSA Hard IP Quality Risk Assessment Tool to benefit the IP vendor, integrator and foundries involved in SoC design.

"A fundamental set of costs and risks to IP vendors and integrators working in different teams, locations and companies currently burdens the overall market cost of IP and, in turn, stifles IP fluidity and competition," said Dr. Raminderpal Singh, Systems and Technology Group at IBM, chair of the Hard IP Working Group and technical lead of the FSA IPe initiative. "Streamlined and effective metrics at IP hand-off is an intelligent and cost-effective way to understand and minimize these 'hidden' costs. This effort has brought together vendors and integrators from across the industry to create an 'apples-to-apples' comparison of hard IP cores."

Foundry Support

FSA solicited foundry involvement early in the hard IP effort. Foundry participants include Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, IBM, Samsung, SMIC, TSMC and UMC.

"We knew that foundry support for hard IP would be a critical element in making this a unified and industry-accepted baseline best practices tool. Coupled with the foundries' internal IP quality programs, we feel the Hard IP Quality Risk Assessment Tool is a strong determinant in identifying quality IP for the end user and in clarifying risk one may choose to undertake," said Lisa Tafoya, vice president of global research for FSA.


Companies that have contributed to the development of the tool include: Avago Technologies; Cadence Design System, Inc.; Cirrus Logic; Freescale Semiconductor; IDT; Impinj, Inc.; Knowlent Corporation; LSI Logic; Mentor Graphics; PMC-Sierra and Synopsys, Inc.

"PMC-Sierra has been committed to the development of the FSA hard IP quality tool because the industry needs high-quality third-party IP for innovation and growth," said Norbert Diesing, director of technology forecasting at PMC-Sierra. "This tool presents a baseline for discussion between IP vendors and IP integrators that enables focus to be drawn quickly to resolving any areas of concern. This is a win/win for the industry."

Additional quotes from companies that have provided support of the hard IP quality worksheet are available at www.fsa.org/news/article.asp?article=2007/0213_q.

IP ecosystem Roadmap

Enhancements to the FSA Hard IP Quality Risk Assessment Tool will be introduced in version 2.0 in Q2 2007.

FSA has begun development on the second tool in the Suite focused on third-party IP licensing to aid the negotiation process. It will leverage the programming and format of the Hard IP Quality Risk Assessment Tool with a set of standardized questions addressing intangible aspects of IP licensing. It will build upon the initial work of FSA's IP subcommittee published in FSA's whitepaper, "The Current State of Semiconductor Intellectual Property Licensing." This tool is slated for release in Q3 2007.

The next two tools will address technology and manufacturability of IP. These efforts will begin this year with planned releases in 2008.

The tools are a result of a collaborative effort from FSA members. FSA seeks additional participation; visit www.fsa.org/committees/ip for more information and to get involved.

About FSA

FSA is the voice of the global fabless business model. Incorporated in 1994, FSA positively impacts the growth and return on invested capital of this business model to enhance the environment for innovation. It provides a platform for meaningful global collaboration between fabless companies and their partners; identifies and articulates opportunities and challenges to enable solutions; and provides research, resources, publications and survey information. Members include fabless companies and their supply chain and service partners, representing more than 21 countries across the globe. www.fsa.org.


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