Semiconductor IP News and Trends Blog
IP Reuse Trumps ESL Design Tools
Semiconductor IP reuse combined with IP subsystems seems to have replaced electronic system-level design tools as the preferred way to achieve the next higher-level of SoC abstraction.
Several semiconductor pundits have noted that reusable IP subsystems have achieved what electronic system-level (ESL) design tools never could, namely, moving SoC design to a higher level of abstraction. This trend toward integration of more and more IP over designing SoCs from scratch means that development effort has shifted from the left-hand side to the right-hand side of the V-Diagram life cycle. In other words, greater emphasis is now placed on integration and verification over design.
Does this mean that requirements generation, algorithm creation, design, modeling and simulation (RHS tasks) are disappearing? Certainly not! These front-end tasks are a critical and necessary part of any SoC development. Further, they are prerequisite and thus tightly linked to the back-end tasks on the LHS of the V-Diagram.
But incorporating greater and greater amounts of third party IP into a SoC design shifts the development effort to one of integration and verification for all of the heterogeneous blocks of IP. Mike Gianfagna, VP of Marketing at Atrenta, has stated that 80% or more of SoCs consists of third-party or legacy IP. He further explained that original circuit design is becoming a boutique art form, shifting the development effort to one of verification. [see, “The Evil Doctor“]
This trend from single IP core to subsystem design is the natural outcome of a parallel movement by EDA tools to higher levels of abstraction, i.e., by the movement from transistor to register level design in EDA tools. What is interesting is that the IP subsystems have seem to achieve what ESL hasn’t, namely, this movement.
Perhaps the less scientific yet most convincing sign that ESL design languages have been replaced by reusable IP came from what EDA analyst Gary Smith said – or rather didn’t say – at this year’s Design Automation Conference (DAC). This year, unlike the last 10 years, Smith did not once mention the phrase ESL. (See “Gary Smith at DAC,” Brian Bailey’s blog).