How will EDA standards move forward, now that the Accellera standards organization and the Open SystemC Initiative (OSCI) have merged into the Accellera Systems Initiative? That was the topic of a "town hall" forum lunch at the DVCon conference Feb. 27, 2012. No presentations here, no speeches - just questions and discussions about where EDA standards go from here.
The meeting was chaired by Stan Krolikoski (right), secretary of the Accellera Systems Initiative and group director for standards at Cadence. Other Accellera officials who participated in the discussion included Shishpal Rawat (Intel), chairman; Dennis Brophy (Mentor Graphics), vice chairman; and Karen Pieper (Tabula), technical committee chair.
The Accellera-OSCI union was completed in December, creating a single organization that promises to unite front-end IC design standards activities at the systems, software, and RTL levels. The "town hall" meeting, the second of its kind at DVCon, was set up to exchange ideas and answer questions about the new organization. (Last year's DVCon "town hall" meeting was held before Accellera merged with OSCI, and was hosted by leaders of both organizations - you can read a report here.)
The following questions and answers illustrate some of the discussion topics at this year's event.
Q: Why did Accellera and OSCI merge?
Rawat: "The major issue confronting the industry is the amount of effort spent on verification and validation. This cuts across SystemC, SystemVerilog, VHDL, C++, and more. We decided we wanted to look at these issues from a unified perspective and did not want to spend energy trying to develop separate standards and separate forums."
Q: How can individuals contribute?
Krolikoski: OSCI had a "key contributor" role. That role doesn't currently exist in the new organization, but a new group is working on policies and procedures. "And the question comes up, if we allow individuals to show up and contribute, what's their title, what's their role, what do they have to sign? We don't know yet."
Q: At what point will groups be formed to look at integration between OSCI and Accellera efforts?
Krolikoski: "As soon as volunteers stand up and say this is the right thing to do, we'll do it...what you'll see is movement between people in different working groups to create unified groups."
Q: EDA standards used to be about formalizing existing implementations. Now, more often, we're standardizing things from scratch and doing reference implementations. A committee becomes kind of a hybrid organization between a standards organization and a software development team. Will there continue to be reference implementations?
Krolikoski: "The answer is yes. In my view reference implementations are an extremely useful proof of concept. Every working group will probably have the option of deciding whether or not they want to create a reference implementation."
Brophy: "I've never seen the open source stuff work well from scratch for EDA. That doesn't mean it can't happen but I think we need more germinated seeds." Both existing OSCI licensing schemes and Apache 2.0 [open source license] will have a role to play in the new organization.
Krolikoski: "I would add that in my opinion, we have to make sure standards stay as the primary purpose. We're not a software production company. We don't want to have groups like the Accellera Systems Initiative competing with EDA vendors."
Q: Where does VHDL fit into the picture?
Krolikoski: At one point the work was done inside Accellera, but at this point VHDL is an IEEE standard, not an Accellera Systems Initiative standard. That's not to say that some group couldn't decide to develop VHDL packages or extensions within the Accellera Systems Initiative.
Q: What mechanisms are in place for catering to small or mid-sized companies, and not just gravitating to large semiconductor companies?
Krolikoski: Accellera has a mix of small and large companies. Cypress is an example of a medium size company and is a major contributor to UVM [Universal Verification Methodology]. We want to get more medium sized semiconductor companies.
Brophy: In the IEEE corporate program we see a similar dynamic - large companies participate, small companies participate, but the medium-size ones, for whatever reason, aren't there.
Q: There's still a lot in UVM that's not in accordance with TLM 2.0 [OSCI transaction-level modeling] standards. Will the TLM 2.0 interface still be owned by the OSCI technical committee or will we have a separate committee aimed at the needs of UVM and OSCI?
Krolikoski: "Now that everybody is under the same roof and the same rules, there's no reason why there can't be a subcommittee of the two [UVM and TLM working groups] that could work out differences."
Pieper: "We will be getting technical chairs and committee leaders together to discuss how to work synergistically together and move the industry. We're seeing issues of integration, like between UVM and SystemC, and AMS [analog/mixed-signal]. This will be an opportunity for us to blend that all together and work on joint solutions."
Parting Comment -User Groups
Krolikoski: "One excellent thing about OSCI is that there were all these SystemC user groups that started independently of OSCI. OSCI supported them financially but didn't set the content. We are now actively looking to duplicate that in the Accellera Systems Initiative. Around the world we're looking to expand the SystemC groups, and to create new user groups. This is a call to action."
For more information, see the Accellera Systems Initiative web site.