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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

ESD Alliance: New members bring opportunities, concerns

September 8th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena

Over the last several weeks, the ESD Alliance has announced
two more members, news of particular interest because both companies are IP vendors. C-Sky Microsystems provides 32-bit embedded CPU cores, and Silvaco provides EDA tools for development of analog/mixed-signal devices, power IC and memory design.

True, Silvaco doesn’t sound like an IP vendor until you remember that it just acquired IPextreme, a well-known player in the IP market headed up by Warren Savage. And Savage, now GM of Silvaco’s IP Division, has recently been named chair of the ESD Alliance Semiconductor IP Working Group, tasked with developing a common methodology, best practices for fingerprinting, and solutions for tracking and auditing IP.

Meanwhile, C-Sky Microsystems brings its own unique value proposition to ESD Alliance. Described in the Press Release as “the first IP company from China to join the ESD Alliance,” C-Sky says it intends to actively participate in Savages’ SIP Working Group. This second bit is admirable, but the first could prove complicated.

For many semiconductor design houses, China presents problems when it comes to manufacturing, a long-standing concern about IP protection during the manufacturing process. Relying on the vast semiconductor manufacturing infrastructure in Taiwan, instead, is for some the solution. A geographically beneficial location in Asia that is not associated with a country frequently accused of less-than-stringent IP protection protocols.

So herein lies the concerns. People who use IP, and the vendors who sell it, need processes for securing the pipeline, audits for tracking IP usage and the associated liabilities, costs, royalties. If an IP vendor is associated with a location or country that continues to generate concerns about IP protection, how can that vendor participate in the development of the aforementioned processes for tracking and auditing IP usage?

In 2009, I published a blog suggesting that the Common Platform was launched, subliminally, as the not-China option. Here is a link to that blog.

The messaging in that blog notwithstanding – to think we’ve come so far as to include a China-based IP company in the membership of the ESD Alliance is a great step forward in international understanding and/or faith in good global business practices.

Don’t be surprised, however, if this newest member of the ESD Alliance also generates some concerns. It may not be politically correct to air those concerns, but when has the business of making money ever been politically correct?

This is a touchy subject, no doubt about it. But failing to address these concerns could potentially undermine any good that’s been done so far by the ESD Alliance in enlarging its scope to include IP vendors in its ranks.


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