Accellera Systems Initiative has completed the first full release of its Soft IP Tagging standard, which provides a standard mechanism for adding metadata to soft IP, such as RTL files, that will follow the IP through its life-cycle.
The Soft IP Tagging 1.0 standard provides a common way to tag and identify cores within a design, allowing users to check that they have the correct version and also whether it is a viable candidate for reuse. For example, IP licensed for single-use only should be treated differently to cores obtained under a perpetual licence. Although the tags will not stop that IP from being used, they can at least provide warnings if the tags are supported by product life-cycle management tools.
For the most part, tags are rendered as comments and directives in RTL in such a way that they are not optimized out by synthesis, placement and design-for-manufacture tools.
Because the tags are designed to carry through to the GDS file used by foundries, the standard allows for the situation where foundries help calculate royalties for IP vendors.
The tags are not encrypted but stored as plaintext so are designed to be used in a legal framework where their removal constitutes infringement of a licence.
Kathy Werner, Accellera's IP Tagging working group chair, said: “Soft IP Tagging 1.0 not only provides a mechanism for version control and bug tracking, but can be used to determine the compatibility of an IP block for reuse in a future design. Engineers can now feel confident there is a standard methodology built around IP reuse, tracking, and data control.”