A View from the Top: A Virtual Prototyping Blog


Rocky Road Ice Cream, Cooperation and Competition

There are a couple of things which impressed me permanently back in school. One of them is the realization of the superiority of cooperation over competition. No, this is not a post on world peace. It all started with an article called “Cooperation and Competition”. It was setting up a simple game. You are a producer of a good of any value, let’s say Slow Churned Rocky Road Ice Cream. You have a deal with a partner of yours, who is paying you with some other good of equal value, let’s say plain Chocolate ice cream – my 4 year old daughter’s favorite. You arrange for a time of exchange, but instead of meeting directly, you put your respective goods at two different places in a forest and then go to the other place and pick up the goods intended for you.

Of course it is tempting to not deliver your own goods and only take what was left for you. This way you get it all, the ice cream you were supposed to give and the ice cream the other person gave you. Well, this now all becomes very interesting when you do this as a series of events, like every week. What is the best strategy to win? Any thoughts? I spent countless hours on my Commodore 64 to figure it out. I even had local competitions with my friends to develop the best strategies on how to win. It was almost my dream to connect this to some evolution strategy simulation to identify who eventually would survive in a virtual society.

There were two main take aways from this and they stuck with me ever since. First, cooperation wins. If you always deliver your ice cream, everybody wins. However, there are of course the meanies and bullies who don’t deliver their ice cream. How to deal with them? Well, it turns out that the simplest strategy against them in this game with simple rules is “Tit for Tat”. Beat them back once and then switch to cooperation again.

Founding System-Level Catalyst Members
Founding System-Level Catalyst Members

I have been notably absent from this Blog with no posts for the last two weeks. The reason is that I was heavily involved in launching a cooperative partner program, launched today. It is called the System-Level Catalyst program and in the true spirit of my Rocky Road ice cream experience at school: It is all about cooperation. The program is meant to accelerate the adoption of system-level design and verification, in short to help ESL. It includes at this point 27 partners of our system-level solutions at Synopsys, the picture on the right here says it all!

The program is open to electronic design automation (EDA) vendors, intellectual property (IP) vendors, embedded software companies and service providers. It benefits our mutual customers by advancing tool and model interoperability and availability of system-level models and services. Our partners get access to Synopsys system-level and rapid prototyping products such as Innovator, DesignWare® System-Level Library, System Studio, Synplify® DSP and the ConfirmaTM platform. They can also use the System-Level Catalyst logo with their products or services to indicate system-level interoperability.

The partners can be lumped into three different categories: Models, Embedded Software and Verification. The specifics are pretty straight forward:

  • IP providers and EDA vendors get access to and support for Synopsys tool and library offerings to validate and demonstrate interoperability of system-level models of their IP and their tool solutions
  • Embedded software vendors get access to Synopsys’ Innovator and DesignWare System-Level Library to validate and demonstrate interoperability of debuggers
  • Qualifying embedded software developers who specialize in the development of software for Synopsys DesignWare Cores get access to virtual platforms and Confirma rapid prototyping platforms for software development prior to silicon availability
  • Training and services companies get access to Synopsys system-level tools in order to help system-level teams rapidly adopt the best practices for system-level design, virtual platforms, digital signal processing and FPGA-based rapid prototyping

I welcome you to check out the partner pages of the System-Level Catalyst Program and the 27 endorsements we got. Every partner has their own page on our websites (we have about 15 active at this point, the others will follow over the next couple of weeks), from which you can inquire on more information on the joint value our partners and us provide to you by clicking on the “tell me more link”.

Overall, I am convinced that cooperation wins! The system-level market’s growth and our customers’ adoption of system-level methodologies have been limited by severe market fragmentation and lack of model and tools interoperability. With the System-Level Catalyst Program, Synopsys is helping open up the system-level market to mainstream adoption, enabling new levels of interoperability.

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