AUSTIN, Texas The OpenAccess Community is close to resolving organizational issues that have thus far delayed the EDA industry's ambitious interoperability standards effort, according to sources at the Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) and Cadence Design Systems Inc. But both Synopsys Inc. and Avanti Corp., considered key to any industry-wide standard, have withheld their support and are still skeptical of the standard's use of Cadence's Genesis database as its centerpiece.
No timetable is yet available for the open-source release of Cadence's Genesis database previously promised for the third quarter although an announcement appears likely within the next few weeks. Cadence and Si2 say they've been working on the structure of the OpenAccess organization and want to announce it along with the Genesis timetable.
Synopsys and Avanti, meanwhile, want access to Genesis source code before signing up for OpenAccess and even then, they're not sure this database is the right approach. Both are talking about Avanti's widely-used Milkyway database as an alternative, which Avanti has offered to license to other EDA vendors.
Launched in June by a coalition of large user companies, OpenAccess seeks to establish Genesis as a common, open-source database for commercial, proprietary and academic EDA software. Even though an applications programming interface (API) and binary reference implementation for Genesis are now available at www.OpenEDA.org, vendors such as Synopsys, Avanti and Mentor Graphics Corp. say they must have access to Genesis source code in order to get behind OpenAccess.
Also at issue are the openness and impartiality of the OpenAccess organization. Andy Graham, Si2 president, said that formulating a structure for the organization has proved challenging.
"We don't just want to announce when [Genesis] is available," Graham said. "We also want to be able to point to how third parties can automatically benefit from what we're putting together." Thus, he said, Si2 and Cadence want to announce the Genesis timetable and the OpenAccess structure simultaneously.
"We've got a road map in place and we're almost ready to announce it," said Dave De Maria, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Cadence (San Jose, Calif.). "What's taking some time is clarifying the structure of how the coalition works who votes on extensions, and things like that."
Cadence wants an open standard, De Maria said, but does not want a standard that "dies by committee." At the moment, any proposed changes to Genesis must be approved by a two-man team that includes architects from IBM Corp. and Cadence. Whether this policy will continue is the kind of issue that Si2 and Cadence are now grappling with.
Synopsys, meanwhile, wants access to the Genesis database code before joining the OpenAccess effort, said Rich Goldman, vice president of strategic market development at Synopsys (Mountain View, Calif.). Synopsys wants to ensure that Genesis is a "quality database" and wants it offered as "true" open source code and not through a gated community where only a few vendors can access it.
Goldman also said that Synopsys is not impressed with Si2's track record. "They don't engender too much confidence from us," he said.
As a backup, Goldman said that Synopsys is talking to "another vendor with a proven solution." Then he noted that Avanti's Milkyway is "a real database today with real applications running on it and a lot of customers."
Doug Lundin, the head of corporate technology marketing at Avanti (Fremont, Calif.), noted that his company is studying how to open Milkyway "with a business model that makes sense to us, our customers and third-party vendors." He said that Avanti may support OpenAccess in the future, but first wants to see if the standard becomes widely accepted.
User companies that have indicated their support for OpenAccess include some of the world's largest EDA purchasers: Agere, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, LSI Logic, Motorola and STMicroelectronics.
The OpenAccess Community is "not moving ahead as fast as we'd like, but is definitely moving forward," said Greg Spirakis, director of design technology at Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.). "I think we've resolved most of the organizational structure. What we can't say is, 'Here are 10 more vendors who have signed up.' "
Graham said that OpenAccess is not currently recruiting new members. "Until details are firmed up and set, it's hard for companies to make a final evaluation," he said.
Graham said there have been over 600 OpenAccess downloads already, showing that user interest is strong. He noted that a customer can achieve most of its desired integration with the binary database, and that the source code is more of a "political" issue.
"We're talking about taking the backbone of the infrastructure of one of the EDA companies, and making it available in a way that's never been done in the EDA industry," Graham said. "So I would characterize the delay as cautionary, as opposed to any sort of tangle."