Being able to evaluate designs early in the system-design process provides system integrators with a number of critical advantages. It allows system integrators to integrate a real design into an early-on version of the system design and, at this early stage, to determine whether or not they want to purchase the design. Additionally, it allows system integrators to avoid unnecessary added wafer spins which can be quite costly and delay product sales. For design houses/component vendors, the early availability of the circuit design also has a key advantage—it greatly increases their chances of getting an early design win.
Intellectual property (IP) provides design houses/ component vendors with a means of sharing their information with system integrators, but issues concerning its protection often prevent it from being used. Instead of sharing IP, system integrators typically wait for the vendors to supply actual hardware prototypes. But this can be a painful, time-consuming process wherein system integrators are forced to ask their component suppliers to measure the devices in question. The vendors make these measurements and in turn, send reams of measurement data pertaining to things like different bias, temperature and power, back to the system integrators who are often times hard pressed to use the data. At every step in this process, delays abound.
To design their systems effectively and be able to deliver them to market ahead of the competition, system integrators must have access to their vendor’s early designs. Finding a way for design houses/component vendors to share circuit-level design performance with system integrators, before a physical prototype is available, is therefore absolutely critical to today’s system integrators.