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Do design and verification engineers care about EDA standards? If the Accellera Systems Initiative "Town Hall" meeting at DVCon 2013 Feb. 25 is any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes. A packed audience attended a lively, hour-long meeting in which non-stop questions were answered by Accellera and IEEE standards developers.
The meeting was chaired by Accellera board member Yatin Trivedi (Synopsys), with frequent commentary from standards participants including Stan Krolikoski (Cadence), Tom Alsop (Intel), Dennis Brophy (Mentor), Martin Barnasconi (NXP), John Brennan (Cadence), Warren Stapleton (AMD), and others. Topics included updates on existing standards efforts as well as more philosophical issues, such as whether "paper based" standards are obsolete in this era of the Internet.
Accellera Town Hall meeting at DVCon 2013
There was some news to start the meeting. Karen Pieper (Tabula), technical chair at Accellera and also chair of the IEEE 1800 SystemVerilog working group, announced that the new SystemVerilog 2013 standard (IEEE 1800-2013) has been released for general availability. She said the two biggest improvements are better support for assertions and for digital/analog to digital signal connections in simulation. The new standard is available for free download from the IEEE. Further information is in an Accellera press release.
Some Questions and Answers
Q: Is there a schedule for UVM 1.2?
Tom Alsop, co-chair of Accellera VIP Technical Subcommittee: "It's not solidified on when it will be released. We were originally targeting DAC but we are trying to resolve the run-time phasing issue. Getting phasing up and running is more important than anything else."
Tom Fitzpatrick (Mentor): What's happening with run-time phasing is that there are two competing APIs in the committee. Run-time phasing is not going away.
Q: Accellera is doing standards work and is also developing a software base class library for UVM. How do you balance that dichotomy?
Stan Krolikoski, Accellera secretary: There are three types of standards organizations. One is a pure standards body with paper standards, such as the IEEE or IEC. A second model is an open-source software development organization. Thirdis a hybrid model. That's where Accellera fits. It is primarily a standards body, but UVM does have a reference implementation and IP-XACT has an XML schema.
The UVM reference implementation is done under an Apache 2.0 license. It's open source. But the API for UVM does not change; it is "fixed and locked" until the committee decides otherwise.
Yatin Trivedi: "That distinction is very important. You would not want multiple APIs floating around, each one touting itself as the standard."
Q: What is the plan for UVM to support multiple languages like e and SystemC, in addition to SystemVerilog?
Warren Stapleton, Accellera director: "There is an ongoing effort to come up with a mixed language solution. We've collected about a half dozen companies who have aligned on a set of user-level requirements for a solution. We'll gather further vendor and user company requirements and lead with that."
Q: When will IP-XACT support analog/mixed-signal?
Martin Barnasconi, Accellera director: An Extensions Working Group, which is a sub-group of the IP-XACT Technical Subcommittee., has developed metadata definitions to deal with continuous time as well as discrete time semantics. These will be standardized extensions.
Q: "I think we need to come up with new paradigms for developing standards that are not paper based and are more interactive." It took 2-3 years to turn IP-XACT around, 3-5 years for SystemVerilog, a "very long time to wait. You could do it at a micro-level where every few days there's a new release, like Linux."
Krolikoski: "A passion of mine is that we have open standards, but that means open to anyone who meets membership criteria, not open so they can change every few days. Companies need a fixed document they can work with...having said that, the notion of a static PDF document is probably an outdated way of presenting a standard."
Dennis Brophy, Accellera vice chair: The IEEE is attempting to move down a path that will allow easier web-based access to information. The goal is a "more live feel" to documents.
Stu Sutherland, consultant: "PDF is portable but not very searchable. I would like to see a much more web-based and very portable version."
Q: Is there an initiative that would provide a consistent coverage database format for code coverage and functional coverage?
John Brennan: "I've been working on UCIS [Unified Coverage Interoperability Standard] for four years now, and that API exists. It works really well for functional coverage. With code coverage, every vendor has a different implementation, so the level of interoperability is less than perfect."
Brophy: There's a [UCIS] API but there isn't an underlying common database. We're leaving that to the tool developers so they can develop the best database for their application.
EDA Standards Efforts Need You!
The meeting concluded with a call to users to get involved with standards. Addressing a second question about code coverage, Shishpal Rawat (Intel), Accellera chair, said "I think it would be very helpful if you could join the committee and contribute your ideas." Krolikoski followed up by noting that a number of user companies have recently joined Accellera. "If we're already in the same ballpark, come on over, you're welcome. And if we're not doing it, propose it."
To learn more about the Accellera Systems Initiative and membership criteria, click here.