Mentor warms to System C as Synopsys sets OSCI free
LAS VEGAS Synopsys Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) has relinquished control of the Open System C Initiative (OSCI) licensing agreement and organization, paving the way for Mentor Graphics Corp. (Wilsonville, Oregon) to join an organization it has long criticized.
Mentor executives reacted positively to the news on Monday, and the company is expected to ask to join OSCI as a corporate member which grants voting power on key issues but costs $50,000 per year.
The move comes two weeks after William vanCleemput, president of Delos Research Group, quit his position as a senior consultant to OSCI and alleged that the organization was a Synopsys-backed "marketing charade" and may violated antitrust laws. Since then, a key section of the license agreement has been changed so that Synopsys no longer has the right to control the agreement. OSCI said that as of Monday June 18, 2001, Section 11 includes the phrase: "No one other than OSCI, acting by a vote of at least 75 percent of the members of its board of directors, has the right to modify this agreement."
"Today we announced we have transferred the rights and licenses to OSCI," said Aart de Geus, chief executive officer and chairman of Synopsys. "Eighteen months ago, we introduced SystemC. We said we would follow a track to deliver an open system. The fact that there are many potholes on the way is a given. These things are political footballs."
De Geus added: "There were issues raised as to how the legal wording could be changed. We made those changes. We have always tried to live up to the initial intent."
OSCI in the clear?
At the same time as the change, OSCI announced that it had been cleared of any wrong-doing by legal firm, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy and Bass LLP of San Francisco, who had been contracted to investigate the allegations of anti-competitive behavior. OSCI also has new California not-for-profit mutual benefit corporation status.
"The investigation has not revealed any reasonable facts that would support a conclusion that OSCI or its members have acted improperly or unlawfully," said Janice Benzel, Austin systems methodology manager for Motorola, Semiconductor Products Sector. Benzel,an OSCI board member, made her comment to the OSCI users forum held at lunchtime on Monday at the Design Automation Conference here.
The change to the licensing agreement, together with the legal report, caused Dennis Brophy, director of strategic business development at Mentor Graphics to respond, "We have a brand new slate, it's been wiped clean. All the things that stood between us and participation in OSCI have gone away."
Launched by CoWare Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) and Synopsys in 1999, SystemC is a C++ class library approach to modeling intended to support a higher-level of design abstraction and interchange of intellectual property models.
Although Cadence Design Systems Inc. joined OSCI just over one year ago, until now move Mentor had consistently expressed doubts about the open-ness of OSCI and declined to joint the organization.
"Synopsys no longer owns the licensing agreement. We said we wanted to see an opening up and this has exceeded our expectations. We now have to go back and review the contractual offering," said Brophy. "We expect to make an official statement after we have done due diligence."
"I am very pleased with the rapidity and thoroughness of the investigation," said Stan Krolikoski, vice president of business operations for Cadence's functional verification group, and recently appointed chairman of OSCI. "But we must remain vigilant of both the facts of doing things and the appearance of doing things. We must be very very careful."
Lingering issuesHowever, some echoes of the issues cited by vanCleemput remain. For example, vanCleemput claimed that engineers from Synopsy and CoWare were guiding development of the standard without being openly documented or constituted as a working group within OSCI.
Krolikoski showed to the OSCI Users Forum at DAC an organizational chart on which the technical co-ordination function from which future working groups would derive their authority, remains "to be decided." Krolikoski said that it had not yet been determined whether that would be a single person reporting to the steering group of corporate members, or would be a committee.
"I hope to have it decided within a month or two," said Krolikoski. "There's no secret technical works being done. To say that there is ignores the facts."
While on the marketing front SystemC is expected to achieve some additional momentum if it can sign up Mentor and boast the top three EDA vendors as supporters, SystemC continues to have its detractors on the technical front.
"The emporer has no clothes," said Simon Davidmann, president and chief executive officer of Co-Design Automation Inc. (San Jose, Calif.), the developer of the Superlog language that increasingly stands in opposition to SystemC. "Where are the tape-outs? Where are the synthesis tools? It's ten times slower than Superlog," he said.
While Superlog, an extension of Verilog to include C language constructs in support of system-level design, has received plaudits from engineers who share experiences in the Email Synopsys Users Group (ESNUG) it has relatively little EDA vendor support the main third party being Get2Chip Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) which supports Superlog with its Volare synthesis tool.
Additional reporting by Chris Edwards, editor of Electronics Times, EE Times' sister newspaper in the United Kingdom.