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Embedded Software forPower Electronics Applications

Is IP reuse good or bad ?

Posted June 02, 2014 in intellectual property, motor control, software ip

Great blog from System Design Engineering Community this morning on the question of Intellectual Property reuse. On the question "What are the advantages and disadvantages of using third party IP?", the best answer goes to IPextreme's Warren Savage :

"The advantages of using third party IP is usually related to that company being a domain expert in a certain field. By using IP from that company, you are in fact licensing expertise from this company and putting it to use in an effective way. Think of it like going to dinner at a 4-star Michelin rated restaurant. The ingredients may be ordinary but how they are assembled are far more exceptional than something the ordinary person can achieve on their own."

In the field of power electronics systems, the software is actually very simple: triggering some power switches to apply voltage on an electrical load. But the challenge is to apply the correct sequence of triggering in order to achieve expected behavior of the load in the target application. In order to do that, you must be a domain expert and know all about the application, the load and eventually software implementation. We are not even talking about safety aspects of power management software which can lead to real system damage or injury. This is so challenging that even the ubiqitous "field oriented control" is still often presented as "new and innovative", while it has been invented... 40 years ago! A simliar analogy could have been made with "playing piano" : everybody knows how to do it (triggering good notes and that the good time) but the challenge is to correctly execute it and create optimal expected effect (generate emotion).

This is inline with EDA Analyst Gary Smith at DAC 2014 ("How System Design is Changing Electronics ?"):

"The major vertical markets include industrial, consumer, telecom, computers, automotive, and mil/aero. To succeed in any of these markets you need an expert, or multiple experts, who drive product definition and market access. "You've got to find someone from the industry you're targeting," Smith said. What role does IP play in system design? A big one, according to Smith. Semiconductor IP is the key to productivity and low-cost design; in fact, it lowered the cost of design by 44% in 2011."

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