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Power standard standoff reaches stalemate

Posted: 16 Oct 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:standard IC power? Power Forward Initiative? PFO? IEEE? Richard Goering?

Participants behind two rival efforts to define a standard IC power description format are attempting to make their initiatives more inclusive. But with the efforts now targeting different standards bodies, there's still not enough common ground to draw both into a single thrust.

The Power Forward Initiative (PFI), launched by Cadence Design Systems Inc. in May, has submitted a project authorization request to the IEEE in hopes of setting up a working group late this year. That accelerates PFI's original timetable by more than a year. Additionally, PFI announced in August that it is adding three EDA vendors!Sequence Design, Calypto Design Systems and Golden Gate Technology!to an advisory group that until now has had no EDA providers other than Cadence.

PFI's original advisory group consisted of Cadence and seven user companies and was going to be closed to anyone else until an initial development effort concluded in January. The original timetable didn't call for release to a standards body until 2008. Cadence's major EDA competitors were sharply critical, and at the Design Automation Conference in July, a group of companies led by Texas Instruments Inc. and Nokia launched an alternative "open, fast and inclusive" low-power standards effort.

That group has since been working with the Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) and Accellera standards organizations to get a structure in place. In August, Si2 and Accellera announced an Oct. 5 workshop on low-power design that will air user requirements and discuss time lines, leaders and participants for the standards effort. Cadence has been invited and will take part.

All of those moves can be seen as steps toward the goal that everyone seems to want!a single common standard for a power description format. But there's a problem. Cadence thinks its Common Power Format (CPF) is essentially a done deal and is ready to go to the IEEE. The TI-Nokia effort is starting with Si2 and Accellera!two organizations that solicit technology donations and do initial development before submitting potential standards to the IEEE.

"If there are still questions about open, fast and inclusive, how much more open can you get than the IEEE?" asked Jan Willis, senior VP of industry alliances at Cadence. She said Cadence expects to transfer the CPF 1.0 specification to the IEEE early next year. The working group will be chaired by user representatives and will be open to all, she noted.

Willis: IEEE is the next stop for Cadence initiative.

Meanwhile, Willis said, other EDA vendors can join the PFI advisory group and have immediate access to the CPF 1.0 specification. Yet, Cadence's largest competitors!Synopsys, Mentor and Magma Design Automation!have declined to do so and are backing the TI-Nokia effort.

"CPF has really passed the Accellera stage of a call for donations," Willis said. "That's where the tension is right now. CPF is ready for the IEEE process now, and it makes no sense to take a big step backward and go back to the drawing boards."

David Peterman, manager of wireless EDA at TI, said those at the DAC meeting agreed that working with Si2 and Accellera made the most sense. "Goals and structures are being set up as we speak by Si2 and Accellera," he said, and the intent is to be "truly open and inclusive to anybody in the EDA realm. It's really important to find a way to get Cadence working in the same way that all the other EDA vendors are working together to try and find a common standard."

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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