February 1, 2011 -- The past few years have seen a dramatic shift in how companies design and market their system-on-chip (SOC) offerings. Designs that used to contain large amounts of home-grown or internal intellectual property (IP) are becoming increasingly reliant upon pre-built blocks from third-party suppliers. It's not uncommon for a new SOC design to contain 80% to 90% of its content from outside suppliers.
This shift is forcing companies to rethink how their products are differentiated from competitive offerings. When the vast majority of the design is based upon components that can be used by anyone, how do you make your product stand out?
In response to this trend, companies are seeking differentiation in a few key areas, including architectural configuration, software features and time to market.
Architectural configuration is the process of assembling the SOC IP from disparate sources in such a way that the configuration options and over-all layout maximize the designer's goals that can range from faster throughput to lower power consumption to overall cost optimization.
Software features are probably the number one area of differentiation as the capabilities of the underlying hardware can only be exploited with properly written software at every level of abstraction.
Time-to-market is self-explanatory, the faster a product comes to market the easier time it will have gaining critical market share.
As a result of this shift, the design process from architectural analysis through software debug and hardware verification needs to take account of this new reality. Since there is a great deal that can be written about each of the three topics mentioned above, the remainder of this article will focus more on the second and third. It will show how design teams are achieving differentiation using software features and accelerating time-to-market.
By Bill Neifert. (Neifert is Chief Technology Officer and cofounder of Carbon Design Systems, Inc.)
This brief introduction has been excerpted from the original copyrighted article.
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