Cliosoft sees a merging of social features and design-data repositories as driving more efficient reuse in chipmakers, bringing them together in its recently launched DesignHub product line.
Ranjit Adhikary, vice president of marketing said the DesignHub software goes much further into design data management than prior IP catalog software. “It has to go much deeper than just search. It has to help you collaborate.
“Instead of people asking ‘why must we have data management?’ they are asking how,” said Adhikary. “What’s important is that you should leverage the knowledge you have and the user experiences, and use those to build a knowledge base for IP.”
“Four years ago we went back to the drawing board. We asked ourselves: what is design IP? It can’t just be semiconductor IP. It’s scripts, documentation, things that often get lost in silos. We got feedback from Cadence, TSMC, SkyWorks, and ARM,” he recalled.
Management of third-party IP needs special handling, he said, to ensure that cores are not signed out without the appropriate licensing steps. Cliosoft built access into the software to only allow users with the right permissions to see protected parts of the documentation and IP. A data-management system also needs to take into account the social dimension of any engineering concern. “People leave the company. But after they leave you often want to know why they made certain decisions [in their designs],” said Adhikary.
"We have also developed with the idea of crowdsourcing in mind: make it possible to take the best brains in the company and put them together, let them chat," Adhikary said. "Let's say you have a problem with IP integration, you can send the designers or other users a message asking for help. A little crowdsourcing goes a long way."
Adhikary claimed the DesignHub environment provides a way to promote engineering cooperation. "If you are an engineer, you want to be recognized within the company. It's similar to the 'like' button on Facebook: it builds up credibility for you. If you're seen to be helpful and smart no one is going to fire you. People can put their best foot forward. We hope this will be a game changer."
The DesignHub software has an API based on the REST architecture used in many web-oriented software environments to pull data from other tools. The company has built links into the Jira and Bugzilla defect-tracking tools and a reports and analytics engine. "I can see for an IP how many bugs were fixed and how many were filed later,as well as who has tried to download the IP. They can use the analytics to make more informed decisions. As things go on we can build more AI into it.
"As we go along we will have more integrations. Someone asked for an integration with Skype," he said.
The DesignHub repository is designed to collect not just the IP core descriptions themselves but documents, scripts, libraries, flows and other design collateral.