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Freescale design VP: OpenAccess simplifies chip makers' lives

Posted: 14 Nov 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:openaccess? eda? freescale?

The promise of OpenAccess is that it will provide EDA users with the best of both worlds, allowing chip makers to employ a hybrid flow of "best of breed" tools from multiple vendors without huge integration challenges, according to Chekib Akrout, vice president of design technology at Freescale Semiconductor Inc.

Delivering a keynote address at the 7th OpenAccess Conference here Thursday (Nov. 10), Akrout outlined the plight currently faced by chip makers, who must choose between a multi-vendor EDA tool flow!which offers the choice of the best available technology in every area but requires considerable integration effort!and a single-vendor flow!which offers tools built on top of a common database but does not allow the flexibility to select other tools that offer differentiated technology.

Calling OpenAccess data models the key to overcoming these issues, Akrout said a flow built on top of an open or standard data model provides the flexibility to integrate differentiated tools, enables the incorporation of emerging tools and technologies and eases future transitions.

"This is really the foundation, I would say, the reason that OpenAccess is important," Akrout said. "Standardization in general is going to be very important for all of us."

Akrout, who while at IBM oversaw the design of the Cell microprocessor, said OpenAccess is being driven "in order to simplify lives for chipmakers," rather that as a way to gain leverage for tool pricing.

Akrout described the strategic value of OpenAccess for helping the industry converge on a single data model, improve the efficiency of the design flow, improve plug and play and make available source code. He also commented on the industry's ability guide future development through the OpenAccess Coalition.

The OpenAccess standard application program interface (API) and reference database implementation is developed by the OpenAccess Coalition, an organization that boasts more than 30 member companies, including some of the top players in EDA and semiconductors.

Though OpenAccess is broadly supported!literally and figuratively!throughout the industry, only a handful of companies are using it in production. OpenAccess, some say, remains too complicated for users (Silicon Navigator Corp. President Jake Buurma voiced this concern at a Nov. 7 panel discussion).

However, during a presentation following Akrout's keynote, Keith Barkley, a senior engineer responsible for CAD tools and technology development at IBM's Systems and Technology group, described using components of an OpenAcess-based router and chip finishing tools on two 65-nanometer designs that IBM has already taped out.

Akrout told the audience at that the OpenAccess data model has "made quite a bit of progress in the last several years" and that Freescale has been a staunch supporter, including pushing for backwards compatibility, support of current directory structure and flat view functionality, as well as active participation in OpenAcess working groups.

- Dylan McGrath

EE Times

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