Semiconductor IP News and Trends Blog
Lack of Coverage Hides Fascinating IP Stories
Many users may think that semiconductor IP is a boringly mature topic, but that view is far from reality as IP moves into new and expanding markets.
Do you think that semiconductor IP is now so mature as to be dull to the point of boring, resigned to the realm of ho-hum stories on incremental improvements? This seems to be a common point of view, judging by the lack of IP coverage and commentary in mainstream technical media. (Of course, that could also be due to the continuing collapse of meaningful, technical stories across all media vehicles. But let’s not go into that tar pit of a discussion at the moment.)
Several meetings and events over the last year have convinced me that the opposite is true, that IP is quietly evolving in very significant ways. That was why my first blog on Chipestimate was titled, “IP at the Crossroads.” Since then, I’ve covered how semiconductor IP in traditional, pre-crossroad areas has been evolving. There topic areas included IP in the automotive industry; verification IP, wireless IP; tagging of IP, interface IP standards, Japanese IP markets and global IP issues.
Lately, I’ve ventured into some of the newer realms of semiconductor IP usage:
- IP Subsystems – Think of this as climbing the abstraction ladder, analogous in the EDA world to moving up from gate-level to RTL design synthesis.
- Robotic IP – This is not yet a real vertical category for IP, but look for changes in the near future.
- RF MEMS – This could be considered “old news” except that IP in sensors and signal conditioning subsystems has been growing rapidly, thanks to smart phones, game interfaces and tablet sales.
- Sensors – Embedded smart sensors are growing rapidly, mainly in the area of MEMS for functions such as acceleration, pressure and temperature measurement – just to name a few. As in the case of RF, the typical analog to digital signal conditioning IP will also be needed, such as amplifiers, filters, converters and the like.
- Chip packaging – RF MEMS structures and passives (capacitors and inductors), as well as signal condition IP, will be embedded in stacked die interposers.
- FPGA IP – Watch for big changes here. Watching the growth dynamics of FGPA IP is like watching the whole EDA chip IP evolution all over again. Look for future blogs on FPGA “Personna-based” (Xilinx) IP, quality metrics and even IP estimation tools for FPGAs
- Manufacturing and Process IP – This is not semiconductor design IP, but closely related semiconductor process IP – see last week’s Semicon announcement by Intermolecular and Globalfoundries. This type of IP will add a new dimension to existing global design IP issues, particularly in the area of outsourced R&D.
- Social IP algorithms – This is an interesting development, which Intel and others refer to as user experience- (UX) based hardware design. User experiences will be translated into algorithms that are then implemented in semiconductor IP. Perhaps future chip designers will need courses and training in the social sciences. Now that would be ironic.
What does the future hold?
- One might expect the meddling of silicon- and carbon-based IP implementation for the marriage of semiconductor and biomedical systems.
- Hardware and software system each have their own type of IP. One would expect a new co-IP methodology to arise, similar to co-design and co-verification for embedded hardware-software SoC systems.
- Intention-based quantum entanglement IP
- Was semiconductor IP ever predicted in science fiction? I don’t mean under the general heading of technology reuse, but specific IP for chip designs. (Admittedly, this topic is less of a future potential for IP and more of a curiosity on my part.)
- What have I missed? Do you have any new visions for IP? Please share them, if so.
Still think IP is boring? As familiar and mature as the IP market may seem, significant changes are happening right now.