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The Future of Semiconductor Intellectual Property Architectural Blocks in Europe

  • Authors: Ilkka Tuomi
    Editor: Marc Bogdanowicz
  • EUR Number: 23962 EN
  • Publication date: 11/2009


Semiconductor intellectual property (IP) blocks, also known as IP cores, are reusable design components that are used to build advanced integrated circuits (ICs). It is typically impossible to create new IC designs without pre-designed IP blocks as a starting point. These design components are called ‘intellectual property’ blocks because they are traded as rights to use and copy the design. Firms that focus on this business model are often called ‘chipless’ semiconductor firms.
IP cores are perhaps the most knowledge-intensive link in the information economy value chain. They define the capabilities of billions of electronic devices produced every year. As all products are becoming increasingly intelligent and embedded with information processing and communication capabilities, future developments in semiconductor IP will have a profound impact on the future developments in the overall knowledge economy and society.
At present, the IC industry is approaching the most fundamental technological disruption in its history. The rapid incremental innovation that has led to exponential growth in the number of transistors on a chip and expanded the applications of ICT to all areas of human life is about to end. This discontinuity (the end of semiconductor scaling) opens up new business opportunities and shifts the focus of ICT research to new areas.
The main objective of this study is to describe the current state and potential future developments in semiconductor IP, and to relate the outcomes of the study to policy-related discussions relevant to the EU and its Member States.

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