Connecting IP Blocks

IP-XACT may be the best approach available, but there’s still room for improvement.

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Is there a standard way to hook up specifically low-power IP blocks today? For all intents and purposes, no.

Before even talking about IP interoperability in terms of power, Philippe Magarshack, general manager of central CAD and design solutions at STMicroelectronics asserted those IPs must be hooked up correctly functionally and in a productive and safe way.

He said ST is forging ahead in this area and is relying on the IP-XACT standard, which is an additional view put on each of the IPs to capture the interface of the IP. It captures the registers when it is an IP that is visible by the software enabling address map automation. “Eventually this enables the hooking up of the IPs on a system bus, for instance. It is not as mature as deployed as System C is for an individual IP, so that’s the next step that we need to make happen. Once we do that we can start thinking about power interaction and power modeling of the IP and as a consequence interacting between those IPs in the power domain.”

More specifically, IP-XACT is an XML format that defines and describes electronic components and their designs. It was created to enable automated configuration and integration through tools.

According to the group, the goals of the standard are to ensure delivery of compatible component descriptions from multiple component vendors; to enable exchanging complex component libraries between EDA tools for SoC design; to describe configurable components using metadata, and to enable the provision of EDA vendor-neutral scripts for component creation and configuration. It was approved as IEEE 1685-2009 on December 9, 2009.

What’s not clear are specifics on low power in IP-XACT. Feel free to chime in with comments. I’m interested to hear from those in the engineering community using the standard.

–Ann Steffora Mutschler