TOKYO There are strong signs that the SpecC and SystemC camps are drawing closer together. While Cadence, Mentor Graphics, Cynapps and several Japanese systems companies have joined the SpecC high-level description language consortium, members of the Synopsys-led SystemC group have proposed finding a way to link the two C-based languages.
Because third-party EDA tools are distributed among a wide number of system and hardware developers, the inclusion of new EDA companies is considered a big step in building support for SpecC. Proposed as an open-standard language by Toshiba last year, SpecC is a C-based system architecture language originally developed by the University of California Irvine.
Since SpecC resides above the hardware-description-language level and is based on the C-language extensions, it is similar in many ways to the SystemC language proposed by Synopsys and CoWare.
Toshiba claims the two languages should coexist and has been careful to position SpecC for describing embedded system specifications at a higher level than SystemC to avoid alienating Synopsys, the dominant synthesis tool provider. Toshiba has maintained that Synopsys' support is critical and has been courting the U.S. EDA vendor since the SpecC consortium was formed last year.
After some months of not taking a position on SpecC, the Synopsys-led SystemC camp has started to reach out to the SpecC group within the last month. "There has been some dialogue started between the two groups," said Jan Goodsell, general manager of CoWare's Japanese subsidiary. "The Open SystemC steering committee has delegated someone to communicate to the SpecC group."
The two camps are talking about forming a joint working group to create an interface between the two languages. "They sent us a proposal for some kind of joint working group to combine SystemC and SpecC and we said it is a welcome approach," said Shojiro Mori, corporate development group manager for Toshiba. "SpecC is more like a specification language that comes before the hardware architecture. What we need to do is to take SpecC and map or convert it to SystemC description. We need some kind of interface to make it smooth, and we have to discuss some context issues."
Toshiba says it has been pleased with the number of companies that have joined the SpecC consortium. There are now more than 30 in the group, which comprises most of the systems companies. Among the most recent systems companies to join are Alpine, Hitachi, Oki, Toyota and Yamaha, Mori said.
SpecC got off to a later start than SystemC, which builds on a design environment already available from hardware-software co-design tools from CoWare. For example, Sony Corp., which has been using CoWare's N2C co-design tools since last year, is an active participant in the SystemC consortium.
Sony also joined SpecC at the urging of Toshiba, but its designers are not yet familiar with the language, said Masaru Kakimoto, manager of the system-on-chip development section at Sony's SoC technology department.