Bridging IP With Verification Standards

Accellera turns to VIP vendors to link UVM with IP-XACT; ties could make IP standard much more useful.

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By Ann Steffora Mutschler
Standards body Accellera is sounding the gong to summon all verification IP providers to check out its efforts in connection with IP-XACT — IEEE 1685, “Standard for IP-XACT, Standard Structure for Packaging, Integrating and Re-Using IP Within Tool-Flows” – with verification IP.

The IP-XACT technical committee has been busy over the past year. Formerly an effort of The SPIRIT Consortium, which merged with Accellera in April, the standard was ratified by the IEEE in June, and has since been downloaded hundreds of times, according to Accellera vice-chair Dennis Brophy, who also serves as director of strategic business development at Mentor Graphics Corp.

“In the first few months of operation we have had several hundred copies downloaded for free,” he noted. “We can predict a very good multi-year trajectory for making the standard easily available to users and consumers, and will help also promote a healthy SoC design environment enabled with IP-XACT.”

IP-XACT, which is an XML schema for meta-data documenting IP and an API that allows tools to access the meta-data, has its roots at STMicroelectronics dating back to 2003. Other vendors involved at a highly visible level include Atrenta, Semifore, NXP Semiconductors, Cadence, Duolog and AMD.

Accellera is well aware what work is not done, and one of the groups inside the standards body is a verification IP technical subcommittee, “whose initial task was to find a way to bring multiple methodologies together so that you could author in one environment and use in another. We proved that through bringing VMM and OVM together so that they could actually work side-by-side and users could author in one and use in the other. We had an open-source kit that users could download in conjunction with their preferred methodology to use and then promote verification IP interoperability,” Brophy explained.

That group took the next step of asking why there isn’t a single standard methodology and have begun work on UVM (universal verification methodology), which intends to bring together the best of all technologies to focus the industry development resources around one methodology – and this is where IP-XACT comes in, he continued.

As a result, the IP-XACT committee relaunched itself over the summer to determine where to go next and are now in the beginning phases of asking themselves that question and inviting other industry participants to join with the committee to start the next phase of development. One of those, interestingly enough, is what can be done to cross-pollinate between the UVM work that is going on, and what impact it will have on IP-XACT. “We know it should have some. IP-XACT has been what I would characterize as a very strong support for design IP that facilitates the design process, but has been a bit weaker in terms of delivery of verification IP,” Brophy observed.

“What Accellera sees is that we really need to have both comprehended in an IP-XACT so we have an ongoing cross-relationship between the technical subcommittees–the IP-XACT group and the VIP group in Accellera. The elements of development that are underway for UVM are, we hope, going to have a positive impact in being able to extend the IP-XACT definition to also comprehend use of verification IP just as the community has done so with design IP. And that is just at its very beginning stages right now,” he said.

While not making any 2011 predictions as to deliverables, Brophy stressed that participants are interested to move forward sooner rather than later, and expects more verification IP companies to join in as they learn about the effort.

For more information, or to download the standard, click here.