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VIP : Changing landscape - Part 2

In the last part we discussed about VIP and the changing landscape. While the increasing demand of VIPs would drive more participants to enter this space, there are significant challenges to come up with a decent VIP portfolio. </SPAN>

Challenges for new entrants

- Which protocol(s)/standard(s)? SoC design houses are well aware of their requirements, but any other entity wanting to invest in developing the VIPs to license further needs to engage with potential customer(s) and build the team with right skill set accordingly.
- Which HVL and Methodology? Starting with an early customer helps in resolving this. However the risk is that the other potential customers may want a different HVL & Methodology. The current trends indicate that development with SV (IEEE 1800) and UVM is a safe bet. </SPAN>
- Expertise with domain/protocol and VIP development? Building a team without a design partner would mean bringing in domain experts along with VIP developers. Further the team needs to be around after implementation so as to work with customers for VIP deployment, fix bugs, modify based on customer requirement and upgrade as the standards evolve.</SPAN>
- How to validate the VIP? Initial clean up may involve short circuiting the Master & Slave agents of the VIP. To prove it golden, either it has to be validated with an already available golden VIP in the market (added cost) or working with a strategic customer who is willing to try out this solution on the already available golden IP or IP under development. Note that it takes significant cycles for the VIP to mature.</SPAN>
- Inter operability with tools? Once the VIP is working with one set of tools, it is important to evaluate it with other simulators. Porting of the VIPs to work on the emulators and formal tools (if applicable) should be planned next. Note that all tool vendors have alliance programs to facilitate such requirements. </SPAN>
- Additional cost? Apart from engineering & tool cost, membership to the standard bodies contributes to additional cost. Members are required to pay yearly fees for adopting the standard to develop a commercial product.</SPAN>

If new comers have a challenge to enter this arena, what should the existing partners of this ecosystem do?

SoC Integrators

When the focus is on rolling out SoCs, investing into in-house development of a VIP for standard protocol(s) doesn’t help in adding any differentiation to the end product. VIP development would incur cost towards tool licenses and engineers during and after development as resources would be required to support multiple projects deploying the VIP, fix bugs and upgrade the VIP as standards evolve at a fast pace. For big design houses getting a good deal with vendors would clearly direct ‘buy’ decision. For startups, utilizing resources to get the product out faster is more important than investing into VIP development. Getting into strategic engagement with VIP providers is a better solution.

EDA Vendors

Investing into VIP makes perfect sense for the EDA vendors for multiple reasons.
- The cost of development reduces with the tool sets available in house.</SPAN>
- The licensing model for the VIP is same as that of tools and complements the product portfolio quite well.</SPAN>
- The sales channel can be reused since the customer base is same. </SPAN>
- If the solution has limited competition it can open up sockets with new customers while making sure that the design houses sticking to vendor specific flow are maintained. </SPAN>
- The VIP(s) can be used as a test vehicle for validating the tools. </SPAN>
- With cloud computing picking up, a strong VIP portfolio will help in offering cloud based verification services quite easily.</SPAN>

Design Service Providers

For design service providers, it is good to invest in VIP development as it complements the services offered. Since they work with both SoC integrators and EDA vendors it makes sense for them to get into partnerships with either or both of these parties instead of developing a solution standalone. Sub system as an IP shall pick up soon. This is where the design services companies should invest by building a complete verification environment and test suite to verify these sub systems while partnering with the IP & VIP providers.

Changing landscape ....

Verification has been the forte for India. Whether to get the right skill set or reduce cost, the verification engineers from India have been involved at all levels i.e. VIP development, IP verification or SoC verification. Geographically, the changing landscape on the VIPs point the efforts to be converging from SoC integrators, EDA vendors and Design service providers in India.</SPAN>

Gaurav Jalan
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