SANTA CRUZ, Calif. The Power Forward Initiative (PFI), launched by Cadence Design Systems to develop a common IC power description format, is announcing this week that three EDA vendors have joined the effort. But as PFI targets the IEEE, a second power standards effort launched at the July Design Automation Conference is charting a different route to standardization.
PFI this week is adding its first EDA vendor members other than Cadence. Sequence Design, Calypto Design Systems, and Golden Gate Technology are joining a PFI advisory group that is now up to 14 members. Further, PFI is submitting a project authorization request (PAR) to the IEEE, in hopes of setting up a working group by the end of the year.
When it was launched in May, PFI consisted of Cadence and seven user companies, and its advisory group was going to be closed to anyone else until the initial release of the Common Power Format (CPF) in January 2007. The original timetable didn't call for release to a standards body until 2008.
Cadence later said PFI would welcome EDA vendors to join the effort, but its leading EDA competitors declined, claiming that PFI imposed restrictions on their ability to see and influence the CPF specification before January. At the Design Automation Conference in July, a group of companies spearheaded by Texas Instruments and Nokia met to launch an alternative "open, fast and inclusive" low-power standards initiative.
That group has since been working with the Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) and Accellera standards organizations to get a structure in place. Si2 and Accellera last week announced an
Oct. 5 workshop on low-power design that will air user requirements, and provide a discussion about timelines, leaders and participants for the standards effort. Cadence has been invited and will participate.
All of these moves can be interpreted as steps towards the goal that everyone seems to want a single common power description format standard. But Cadence thinks the Common Power Format (CPF) is nearly complete and ready to go to the IEEE. The TI-Nokia effort is starting with Si2 and Accellera, two organizations that solicit technology donations and do initial development work before submitting potential standards to the IEEE.
"If there are still questions about open, fast, and inclusive, how much more open can you get than the IEEE?" asked Jan Willis, senior vice president of industry alliances at Cadence. She said Cadence expects to transfer the CPF 1.0 specification to the IEEE early next year. The working group will be chaired by user representatives and will be open to all, she noted.
Meanwhile, Willis said, other EDA vendors can join the PFI advisory group and have immediate access to the CPF 1.0 specification. But Willis acknowledged that controversy remains. "CPF has really passed the Accellera stage of a call for donations," she said. "That's where the tension is right now. CPF is ready for the IEEE process now, and it makes no sense to take a big step backwards and go back to the drawing boards."
David Peterman, manager of wireless EDA at Texas Instruments, said the participants at the DAC meeting had agreed that working with Si2 and Accellera made the most sense. "Goals and structures are being set up as we speak by Si2 and Accellera," he said. The intent, he said, is to be "truly open and inclusive to anybody in the EDA realm."
Si2, meanwhile, is not supporting one proposed standards effort over another, and has decided to "back off" and listen to the user community at the upcoming Oct. 5 Low Power Workshop, said Steve Schulz, Si2 president. Schulz said Si2 will integrate the issues into a low power coalition, which has already been approved by Si2's board of directors. The end goal is "a cohesive whole that will outlast short-term posturing," he said.
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