It was perhaps 15 years ago, while working at Mentor Graphics, I was trying to get traction on an Electronic System Level (ESL) strategy. I spoke to one of our customers who had just finished a pilot program for an ESL flow. He spoke of the productivity gains they had seen, he spoke of the higher quality they had obtained, he talked about how the implementation was faster, smaller – in fact better on every metric that they had tracked. So I asked him when they expected to start rolling it out to other groups within the company. He said they had no such plans. The problem: models. It would take them too long to produce all of the high-level models for the blocks that were already in use and that until they had enough models, none of their gains would be realized.
While working to bring hardware/software co-verification into mainstream adoption, we kept running up against someone who needed another processor or variant of it and without the models they couldn’t think about purchasing the tool. I have talked at length about how the adoption of virtual prototypes was being inhibited by the lack of standards and how TLM 2.0 had brought all of the EDA vendors together. I have talked about how IP providers need to get with the program and start shipping high-level models of their blocks. Without models the entire industry is being held back.
So now I ask, why did it take so long for someone to do what Synopsys has just announced? TLM Central
is a portal, repository and community for transaction-level models that will enable models that are available to be located by those who need them. I spoke with Tom De Schutter, senior product marketing manager, system level solutions within Synopsys. He explained that while this was a Synopsys effort, it was in no ways tied to Synopsys. They did considered going to the standards groups to get this effort going, but they decided it would be quicker to just fund it, develop it internally and get a critical mass of models into the repository (Over 600 for the release). Once it is running smoothly they would then consider finding a more permanent and independent home for it, but until then, they are committed to funding and maintaining the site.“Virtual prototyping has become a key methodology in starting software development early in the design cycle”
said Syuji Kubota Senior R&D Engineer, Core Technology R&D Center, Ricoh. “Model availability is absolutely key to achieving the right ROI when developing and using virtual prototypes. That is why we are happy to see IP vendors, service providers and research institutes worldwide participate in one industry-wide portal to promote transaction-level model availability and therefore grow the value of virtual prototyping.”
For the initial release, most of the entries in the repository are for commercial models, which means that very few of the models can actually be downloaded for free. Instead it provides information about the models, where to get more information and who to contact to purchase the models. Synopsys also intends to work with Universities and to provide them with incentives to create models for more generic parts such as peripherals, DMAs etc. These would then be available in open source form so that people could modify them to fit their own specific needs.“Effective use of standards-based methods clearly speeds the creation and re-use of transaction-level models and their efficient deployment in virtual prototypes for early software development”
said Rob Hurley, CEO at Doulos. “The methodology tutorials and online examples we provide on TLMCentral will give model creators valuable insight and help them quickly develop practical know-how. They have been compiled by the Doulos team, authors of the IEEE 1666™ SystemC® Language Reference Manual and the TLM-2.0 User Manual, and are part of the extensive collateral supporting Doulos training capability in this important domain.”
I was intrigued by the fact that model providers have the option of not allowing ratings or reviews of their models. Tom explained that they were required to put that in before certain model providers would participate. I find that a very interesting decision and makes me wonder what those vendors are scared of or what they need to hide. So, I say shame on them and I was not surprised to find who some of those vendors were. I will not name names, but it becomes fairly evident when you go to the site.
Synopsys expects to make a lot of improvements to the site during its early days and we intend to talk again in a few weeks after they see how the site is functioning, the type of response the site has achieved and hopefully at that point the first of the open source models should start to become available. So I encourage you to go to the site and provide Synopsys with feedback, both good and bad about what you would like to see there.
– keeping you covered
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