It has been interesting to watch Methodics transform from an EDA company with their VersIC design management product to Life Cycle Management with ProjectIC, and now a Systems Company with WarpStor. Methodics was founded in 2006 by 2 ex-Cadence experts in the Custom IC design tools space, Simon Butler and Fergus Slorach. Today Methodics delivers state-of-the-art IP Lifecycle Management, Design Data Management, and Storage and Workspace optimization and acceleration tools for analog, digital, SoC, and software development design teams.
The term “IP” gets tossed around a lot, but it seems to mean different things to different people. How do your customers view the term “IP” and do you see the definition converging to any particular class?
“IP” and design re-use are closely related. Companies realize that the only way to meet new time to market demands and cost constraints is to be able to either reuse as much design as possible from previous designs, or purchase “IP” from third parties to meet these goals. Therefore, IP takes many different definitions depending on where it is coming from. It can be design data, software code, PDK’s, configuration files, documentation, hierarchical “blocks of blocks”, almost anything related to the design process. This is what the challenge is.. how can this disparate data be managed?
As companies adopt strategies that help them reuse their existing IP alongside 3rd party IP, are you seeing other methodologies that can help even further?
The biggest challenge is once you decide to re-use IP, you still have a configuration and connectivity issue. These IP blocks must work together. The problem is how to not lose the benefit of not having to redesign everything, only to spend the same time integrating the IP blocks. Companies are now starting to look towards “Platform Based Design” strategies, where IP is integrated before a new design starts into a platform that already works. To make this work, IP’s are designed to be plug and play into a common platform prior to be targeted towards a new design. Therefore, design teams are not downloading individual blocks that they must make work together, but a known good starting point of a functioning platform and can concentrate on any customization or new code development for the final design. This also simplifies product families within companies, because products are naturally grouped by the commonalities of IP used.
What challenges do you see companies need to overcome to realize these IP reuse and platform based design methodologies?
First, there has to be a change in mindset on what IP is… that “designing for re-use” is not a heavyweight methodology shift requiring additional work from designers to make happen. Configuration information, meta data, and related design artifacts need to be able to be easily maintained in order to facilitate adoption.
Also, the notion that there needs to be a major methodology change to make this happen needs to be dispelled. A system for facilitating IP reuse needs to be easy to integrate into existing design flows with little to no overhead.
With all the consolidation that is happening in the Semiconductor Industry, what impact do you see on the need to adopt IP reuse methodologies?
These mergers are being driven so that companies can maintain a healthy and competitive business. With companies merging to increase product portfolios, or to move to a more complete solution for their customers, they must create efficiencies in the product design flows. If a company doubles it product portfolio, or vertically integrates designs to provide a more complete system, you cannot lose business optimizations to a decrease in design productivity. Companies must be able to leverage all IP within the new organization in order to maintain efficiencies that were brought about by the merger. It is business critical to make sure the infrastructure is in place to facilitate design reuse throughout the new, post-merger organization.
What do you see as a requirement within companies to be able to effectively adopt IP re-use methodologies?
Companies need a collaborative platform that tracks the IP being created in the system, and how those same IP’s are being used by designers in multiple projects. There should be no differentiation between design data and IP, because any design artifact can be IP in another design. You should not limit your IP catalog to some static, manually maintained catalog determined by some librarian or IT person that does not have visibility into all designs, but allow designers to search all designs for possible IP and re-use candidates.
There are many solutions out there for semiconductor design data management and IP management, what makes Methodics unique?
Methodics has a system of collaboration that connects IP consumers to IP creators. It tracks the IP lifecycle in a project context that can be summarized in easily configured dashboards with all access to IP meta data. Any interested party has access to what IP is available, its state and quality, and how and where it’s used in other projects. Importantly, Methodics does not differentiate between design data and IP data – it is all treated the same and can be made accessible to anyone at anytime based on access policies and permissions. The IP management platform is lightweight and can be seamlessly integrated in design environments. With IP management in place, design decisions are more historically informed and contextually aware. Instead of being seen as a mandate that comes with a lot of overhead, “IP management” is a process that happens in the background and then becomes a guide to making better design decisions.