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Multiple Prototype IP Designs on an Integrated Circuit

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000132629D
Original Publication Date: 2005-Dec-28
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Dec-28
Document File: 5 page(s) / 134K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

In the design and manufacturing of Application Specific Integrated Circuilts (ASIC) reuse of Intellectual Property (IP) is a known art and provides a lower cost and higher quality ASIC. However, the initial design of IP sometimes requires a real implementation on an Integrated Circuit. With increasing complexity of the designs, the value of a prototype becomes greater and greater, since tests can be run and problems can be observed much more quickly than with simulation. This presents the problem of either designing and manufacturing a ASIC specifically for testing that IP or else relying on a production ASIC as the "guinea pig" for the IP. To further compound the problem, IP from outside the ASIC provider is sometimes used. This means that these outside providers (3rd parties) need this same prototyping ability. This article discusses means to provide protection and electrical isolation for putting multiple IP on a single die.

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Multiple Prototype IP Designs on an Integrated Circuit

In the design and manufacturing of Application Specific Integrated Circuilts (ASIC) reuse of Intellectual Property (IP) is a known art and provides a lower cost and higher quality ASIC. However, the initial design of IP sometimes requires a real implementation on an Integrated Circuit. With increasing complexity of the designs, the value of a prototype becomes greater and greater, since tests can be run and problems can be observed much more quickly than with simulation. This presents the problem of either designing and manufacturing ASIC specifically for testing that IP or else relying on a production ASIC as the "guinea pig" for the IP. To further compound the problem, IP from outside the ASIC provider is sometimes used. This means that these outside providers (3rd parties) need this same prototyping ability.

The least expensive approach is to combine multipe IP on the same ASIC test chip. For internally designed IP, combining IP on the same ASIC for test is known art. However, when this same method is applied to 3rd party IP providers, issues of confidentiality, trade secrets, functional and performance metrics become an issue. If two different 3rd party IP providers were to have access to the same test ASIC, they would be able to determine some of the above described items by testing the other 3rd party's IP.

A way to allow multiple 3rd Party IP providers to share the same ASIC test chip but not allow them to be able to access the other IP on that ASIC must be provided.

To provide tests sites for customers, there must be privacy and electrical isolation. There must be privacy so that IP is only visible to the customer that designed that particular piece of IP. Electrical isolation must exist so that one piece of IP on a chip cannot interfere with other IP on a chip.

The obvious solution is to segregate the chip into sections, each having their own power supply pins and I/O. However, this does not insure the exclusivity of the IP access. An alternative solution is to only bond out those I/O needed for a particular IP test. However, this solution is costly. An individual part number and bonding procedure must be developed for each IP version. Additionally the amount of die to bond in a particular configuration may not be known immediately. Multiple IP from the same 3rd party IP provider could be bonded out simultaneously, however electrical isolation is still a problem.

Reverse engineering by examination of the IP through microscopes or lab techniques could be accomplished, however, this same problem exists for the production level part. Therefore, the privacy of the IP on the chip will be as secure as technology permits.

A critical component is that the inactive IP on the chip cannot be visible to either the active IP or to the outside. If the inactive logic can be accessed, then IP from one company/organization may be viewed by another company/organization. Therefore, the...