SANTA CRUZ, Calif. An industry coalition led by Cadence Design Systems Inc. will launch a standards effort this week to create a consistent format for representing IC power specifications. The coalition proposes to develop a Common Power Format (CPF) that will be readable by tools throughout the design flow.
The coalition, Power Forward, also includes AMD, ARM, ATI, Fujitsu, Freescale, NEC, and TSMC. No other EDA companies are involved yet, but Cadence representatives say they will open the doors to other EDA companies, including competitors, following an initial development effort that's set to culminate in early 2007.
"The whole issue is that there's no way of specifying what your power intent is," said Chi-Ping Hsu, corporate vice president of synthesis solutions at Cadence. "That's especially true with multiple power domains, multiple supply voltages, and frequency scaling." The result, said Hsu, is a "fragmented" design flow that is extremely difficult to automate.
Hsu noted that a draft specification for the CPF already exists inside Cadence. He said it's a very "flexible" format that's more like a TCL scripting language than an HDL. Designers can use it to express their power intent, constraints, and methodology, as well as specify library and intellectual property (IP) intent.
Jan Willis, senior vice president for industry alliances at Cadence, said the initial members of the initiative will now "roll up their sleeves" with the hope of having a draft proposal by January 2007. At that time, she said, the initiative will open the doors to broader participation, and will determine a standards body that can provide a home for the emerging standard.
Willis said that Power Forward members currently envision a three-year timetable for establishing CPF as an industry standard. The hope is that a second draft version will be available by the end of 2007, with a transfer to a standards body in 2008. But there may be an opportunity to use it before then, depending on what products are available, she said.
"We're not announcing anything from Cadence, but we're going to be making some [CPF] announcements, and some will happen this year," she said.
Further information about Power Forward and its participants is available in an article in the print edition of this week's EE Times.