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A less visible, yet important, ballot is underway: P1801

Posted: 03 Nov 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:P1801 IEEE? UPF? CPF?

By Karen Bartleson
The Standards Game

I don't know about you, but I'll be glad when the 2008 U.S. elections are over. I mailed in my ballot this week and am now immune from those working hard to sway my vote. I am honored and grateful to live in America, and I hope for a healthy, reunified country with global consciousness in 2009.

In The Standards Game, there is another important ballot underway: IEEE P1801, formally known as the "Standard for Design and Verification of Low Power Integrated Circuits". You may know this standard as UPF, the Unified Power Format, which was approved as an Accellera standard in February, 2007. I've written about this standard in previous posts, describing its technical advantages and openness, plus the desire for a single industry standard.

The reason for UPF's long official name in the IEEE is to distinguish it from other standards with the word "power" in their title. As I might have mentioned, I'm a member of a couple of committees in the IEEE that approve standards in a wide range of electrical and electronic engineering fields. I fondly remember one of my fellow committee members telling me that "low power" to him meant anything below 25,000 volts. We certainly wouldn't want a nuclear power plant generating the kind of low power that we think of in the semiconductor industry.

Low power IC design continues to be an imperative to support modern electronic product requirements. The UPF/IEEE P1801 standard provides an open foundation for low power design solutions. Leading suppliers of these solutions have built and are building tools and flows around UPF.

UPF 1.0 from Accellera has been in real-world use, which has given users and EDA tool developers insights into ways to polish and enhance it within the IEEE P1801 Working Group. Oversights, ambiguities, verbosity, and backward compatibility have been addressed. Enhancements have been made which include customer requirements that are new and some that were previously held for the next version. Advanced power management solutions have been devised, and user interface improvements have been implemented.

The resulting draft standard is now ready to receive the stamp of approval from the IEEE Standards Association. Once it's through the process, the "P" (which stands for "project") will be dropped from UPF's moniker and it will be simply, IEEE Standard 1801.

Finally, some very good news from the Si2 Low Power Coalition (the owner of CPF's evolution) was delivered to the P1801 Working Group: the CPF 2.1 roadmap includes noteworthy efforts towards interoperability with P1801. CPF, I'm sure you know, is an alternate format for describing low power design intent.

Congratulations to the IEEE P1801 Working Group as your draft standard goes through its balloting. Everyone will be a winner in this particular election.

- Karen Bartleson is part of the Synopsys In her blog, The Standards Game, Karen shares her perspective on what's going on in the standards arena.

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