Faced with a mix of verification environments, Mentor and Cadence have just decided that getting together is better than moving apart in the verification space. Mergers, acquisitions, and professionals moving from company to company have created, in the words of both Dennis Brophy, Group Director of Strategic Business Development at Mentor's Verification Division, and Steve Glaser, Corporate VP of Marketing at Cadence's Verification Division, an inefficient verification environment. Companies end up with licenses for simulators from different vendors, and engineers trained in one verification environment find it necessary to learn another one as they join a different company. In both cases, the cost of design verification increases.
Both companies had realized that a good simulator is only a part of the tools required for efficient design verification. Mentor introduced its Advanced Verification Methodology (AVM) directed specifically at SystemVerilog environments, although it also supports SystemC nicely. Cadence, on their part, offers Incisive's Plan-to-Closure Methodology (IPCM) as part of their Solutions series of products. IPCM supports SystemVerilog verification methods and uses a web-based Knowledge System to help its users.
The companies have agreed to unify both methods in a superset environment they called Open Verification Methodology (OVM) which hopefully will be more open than OVI used to be! What is impressive to me is the fact that the EDA industry is realizing that good syntax and semantics are not enough to make a modeling language successful.
In my discussion with Mr. Brody and Mr. Glaser, they both stressed that another important motivation for the agreement was to simplify the work that their commercial partners, mostly VIP suppliers, training companies and individual consultants, have to do in supporting two different verification environment. I am sure Stu Sutherland is shedding tears of joy while he gets ready to study OVM and add it to his knowledge base! Of course OVM means that consultants specializing in just one of the two existing verification environments will now have to learn more, but the effort will be much sweeter given the good intentions of Mentor and Cadence. And since OVM is being called an "ecosystem" may be Doulos can put together guided tours offering photo opportunities for the flora and fauna of this new creation.
The usual "preferred customers" of both companies can get a first look at the environment almost immediately, while the set of the "less rich and famous" (LRF) will have to wait until sometime in Q4 of this year. Both companies have stated that they will work to enrich and extend OVM next year. The plans are to do so by both enriching the AVM and IPCM methods as well as developing IP and methods specific to OVM.
What does this mean for Synopsys and the other small SystemVerilog tools vendors will make for good sandwich shop gossip and speculations. OVM is supposed to be available on a as yet unnamed new web site that will host the open source code libraries and methodology documentation. In that case Synopsys may well benefit from the work done in AVM and IPCM and the price is right. A year from now it will be difficult to find many verification engineers or purchasing managers that still remember that OVM came about through the engineering efforts of Cadence and Mentor.