Scope and Goals
It is also called "SIP hardening" (Silicon intellectual property hardening). The word "hardening" means a process of securing something. However, IP hardening has other meanings, where IP points to the intellectual property in the field of Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) circuit designs. IP hardening is a process to make re-use of proven design, and generate fast time-to-market, low-risk-in-fabrication solutions to provide Intellectual property (IP) (or Silicon intellectual property) of design cores.
Re-usability with Predictability
For example, a DSP processor is developed from soft cores of RTL (Register transfer level) format, and it can be targeted to various technologies or different foundries to yield different implementations. The process of IP hardening is from soft core to generate re-usable hard (hardware) cores (usually in GDS II format). A main advantage of such hard IP is its predictable characteristics as the IP has been pre-implemented, while it offers flexibility of soft cores. It might come with a set of models for simulations or verifications.
Proven Methodology with Quality
The effort input to harden the soft IP means quality of the target technology, goals of design and the methodology employed. The hard IP has been proven in the target technology and application. E.g. the hard core in GDS II format is said to clean in DRC (Design rule checking), and LVS (see Layout Versus Schematic). I.e. that can pass all the rules required for manufacturing by the specific foundry.
^ http://www.eettaiwan.com/ART_8800406094_480102_AN_71148c3a.HTM IP hardening by eetTaiwan