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Coalition seeks to unify IC power standards efforts

Posted: 06 Oct 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:low-power design? Cadence? Synopsys? Mentor? Magma?

Seeking to establish a "unified system approach" to low-power IC design, the Si2 team up for unified low-power standard" target=_blank>Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) launched the Low Power Coalition (LPC) this week. While LPC may help unite two disparate efforts for standardizing a power specification format, its long-range goals extend to the entire IC design flow.

The LPC's first challenge will be to bring together two rival power standards efforts. One is the Power Forward Initiative (PFI), launched by Cadence Design Systems in May; the other is the recent Accellera Unified Power Format (UPF), supported by various companies, including Texas Instruments, Nokia, Synopsys, Mentor Graphics and Magma Design Automation.

"We have been engaged from the very beginning to ensure the industry will have a unified or converged flow for low-power design methodologies," said Steve Schulz, Si2 president. "We are not competing with any other standards effort, but rather trying to bring things together."

While Si2 is thus far declining to name the founding members of the LPC, Schulz said he believes all of the "big four" EDA companiesCadence, Synopsys, Mentor and Magmawill participate. A quote sheet provided by Si2 includes supporting comments from Azuro, Cadence, LSI Logic, Magma, NXP Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments. It lists "other supporting members" as Apache Design Systems, ChipVision, Intel, Sequence Design, Sun Microsystems and Synopsys.

But LPC is looking beyond a power format specification, Schulz said. Other considerations, he said, include low-power cell libraries, extensions to the OpenAccess data model, extensions to HDLs, intellectual property (IP) block data, verification, and analog/RF design. Schulz said LPC will work with Accellera, the IEEE, and the Spirit consortium to further its goals.

"Longer term, we want to have a migration further upstream," Schulz said. "We want to encourage architectural and system level design, and have a hardware/software view of things. That will take more time."

"LPC serves as an industry-wide entity to bring ideas together, in a place where there's permanent staff and an ongoing multi-year approach," said Jan Willis, senior vice president for industry alliances at Cadence.

Will LPC bring the Power Forward and Accellera UPF efforts together? "It's truly my hope, and that of many others, that this could be a forum to do that," Willis said. "Then we can all move on and start solving the next set of challenges."

While Accellera is focusing on language formats, Si2 is more concerned with design flows, libraries and modeling, noted Shrenik Mehta, Accellera chair. From this perspective, he said, Accellera's UPF and Si2's LPC are complimentary efforts. But for UPF and Power Forward to become part of one effort, he said, Cadence must provide open access to its Common Power Format and join with other companies in a "level playing field" to develop a new standard.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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