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The Standards Game

The story of Accellera Systems Initiative

Posted by Karen B on January 12th, 2012

imageBy now, you’ve probably seen the announcement of Accellera and Open System C Initiative (OSCI) merging to form a new, unified organization called Accellera Systems Initiative. This marks the next chapter in the history book of EDA standards organizations.

A decade ago, I was part of the core team that brought VHDL International (VI) and Open Verilog International (OVI) to form Accellera. VI and OVI were successful in their own right in the promotion and adoption of their respective HDLs (VHDL and Verilog). One could say that the formation of Accellera was due to the industry’s desire that HDLs had to grow further to help address verification, test, and power issues. Part of the truth, though, is that we were duplicating efforts and paying too much for two organizations. I’ll never forget going to a VI board meeting one day and an OVI board meeting the day after. Many of the same people were in both meetings, but some of them switched their viewpoints. I called them out for arguing with themselves.

Accellera’s desire to provide much-needed standards was realized with SystemVerilog, Open Verification Library (OVL), Open Compression Interface (OCI), Unified Power Format (UPF) and Universal Verification Methodology (UVM). Accellera then merged with The SPIRIT Consortium to expand the scope of language-based standards activity to include IP standards. Today, IP-XACT efforts under Accellera are helping integrate use of IP and its meta-data into various standards such as UVM. This is a classic example of collaboration among adjacent standards that benefits the user community with improved productivity and provides business opportunities for tool and IP vendors.

Here is some trivia about the merger that you won’t find in the announcement:

- Most of the Board makeup is the same as before (7 of 9 OSCI board members were also Accellera board members). That should bring continuity and easier integration of things like Policies and Procedures.

- There is an increase in the number of associate members. This brings the opportunity for broader collaboration and participation in future standards work.

- Logistics and infrastructure will continue to be provided by the highly capable and experienced people who’ve worked for both organizations for decades.

- Kavi continues to provide the online platform.

- Members will save money on dues and get more benefits. There, I said it.

- There is a good balance between users and vendors. Accellera Systems Initiative is not dominated by EDA companies.

- Accellera Systems Initiative will not be called ASI. That would be confusing.

- The idea of merging the two organizations came up four years ago.

As the Accellera and OSCI communities come together under a single umbrella, I believe the new organization will remain focused on the fundamental premise of EDA standards – interoperability between tools to help build robust design and verification flows. Portability of a design across multiple tools may be desirable (e.g., switching from one functional simulator to another), but it’s often not practical. It’s the ability to take the design through successive stages of refinement and validation that makes the standards most valuable.

I would like to see Accellera Systems Initiative bring the industry even more collaboration and the platform for improved interoperability across system and chip design tools in coming years. And I’d like to invite you to participate.

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