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The MPW IP Trial Program (where MPW stands for Multi-Project Wafer fabrication) is specifically designed for start-up or small and medium design companies to reduce up-front risk in both cost and technology selection during development stage. With such risk being reduced and the speed up of time to market, the success rate in customer and venture funding acquisition can be made much higher. The IP cores include ARM CPU IP cores, ARM Primecell (AXI / AHB / APB products).
Semiconductors Intellectual Properties (IP) licensing is becoming a norm in modern system on chip (SoC) design. However, the trend of total IP cost is going up. Besides, the cost of quality due to poor IP in design is even higher in complex design. The risk is increasing not just because of the up-front licensing model; also due to the fact that users do not know the IP quality until they really use it. Thus the IP sourcing time, IP evaluation, contract / price negotiation, IP licensing and perhaps architecture or system changes (loop back due to failure after IP evaluation) might end up with a long development cycle time. In general, it usually makes the overall development cycle time to 18~24 months, as shown in the upper part of the figure 1.
Full spectrum of IP cores is available in this program for customers to try to employ, at a small fraction of the market production license fees for multi-project wafer (MPW) fabrication submission (called MPW license fee). SoC designer can then evaluate the IP core on HKSTP's secure environment. The sourcing and evaluation time of IP can be saved as much as 70% as shown in lower part of figure 1. The risk and cost of the upfront investment can be controlled to minimum, with MPW. Startup companies can get the MPW prototype samples of IC fabrication much faster then before. This significantly improves their competitiveness in the market. Besides, the re-spin cost and time can also be reduced in this model. Once the MPW prototype of fabrication is confirmed to go for production, customer can decide to upgrade the MPW license to full-production license.