Preserving Electronic Design IP via Locked IP Model

Posted by Gil Sharon on Jan 21, 2019 11:42:35 AM

Many companies work together to design electronic systems. During the qualification process, there is a lot of back and forth between the final users (mostly OEMs or manufacturers) and the suppliers. In the ideal world, the more information that is shared between both parties, the more likely they are to produce reliable and safe products. In reality, two companies can’t openly share all the design details due to intellectual property considerations. The circuit card designer does not want to share the board details with a prospective customer. Simultaneously, to protect new product ideas, the systems integrator may not want to share use environment details with the board designers. The need for both parties to protect their IP and stay competitive makes it hard to collaborate.

A PCB design represents a significant amount of intellectual property for the designer. The designer would like to keep the specifics of the design data confidential while still being able to provide their intended customer enough information to make a reliability assessment.

The PCB user, OEM or systems integrator, invests a lot of resources to generate accelerometer and thermocouple data for the PCBs in operation. The life cycle and reliability requirements can reveal a lot about the intended use of the PCB. Creating load profiles requires significant resources and the user would like to keep this information confidential. This information will sometimes be collated in industry specifications but these are not suitable for specific board use cases. Thus it is important for the user to keep board-specific use scenarios confidential.

Sherlock 6.1 Locked IP Model offers a solution to this problem. Locked IP Model allows designs to travel between design suppliers and design users while preserving PCB design details and without disclosing the intended use of PCB design via environmental conditions or reliability requirements. This type of communication tool allows two entities to work together on a system with a layer of trust built into the reliability calculations.

So how does it work?

PCB designer inputs model data into Sherlock including material properties, board stackup, and part details. Sherlock automatically organizes the material properties and parts for the PCB, strips them of most of the design data, and sanitizes it into a locked IP model. This model contains the information needed to run a reliability physics analysis without disclosing any design details. The Sherlock locked model can then be sent outside of the original designer organization without worrying about specific design parameters being revealed.

The intended PCB user receives a locked model, applies desired load profile, life cycle and reliability requirements and runs Sherlock Automated Design Analysis (ADA). The analysis provides a report on how the supplier-provided design would fair under the life cycle conditions applied by the user. The report discloses neither the specific conditions nor the design details thus ensuring IP safety for both supplier and design user. The report is given back to the designer to make necessary modifications based on the reliability report. The reliability report shields the user from revealing detailed test data but allows collaboration.




This type of model is useful for communicating the design efficacy between internal teams and external organizations, OEMs, systems integrators and suppliers alike. It allows the suppliers to show reliability to the customer without revealing any details of their core IP. The systems integrator can also create many different scenarios with the kind of details that can’t be exposed in a published specification document.

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Topics: Sherlock Automated Design Analysis, Reliability Physics

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