25  Feb
Dueling Standards

(Sit back a moment and imagine the theme from Deliverance in the background. OK, now we’re ready to read on).

Over the years, the electronics industry has been marked by several competing proposed standards – either for a technology, data representation or even a design methodology – that have done nothing but either confused the user or delayed the acceptance of the “winning? standard. Well known consumer examples include the VHS vs. Betamax fiasco (Sony took a bath on that one!) and, currently, the incompatible Blu-ray vs. HD DVD standards, which have movie buffs scratching their heads and delaying buying equipment that supports only one of these DVD formats.

Starting in the mid-80s we had VHDL vs. Verilog for supporting the then-disruptive methodology of HDL-based chip design. For awhile, designers and EDA vendors alike had to support both HDLs to enable designers to take full advantage of the new chip design methodology. Tell me how useful that was for advancing the semiconductor industry!

Now we have dissention in the ranks for a proposed IP quality metric for product selection and qualification. It’s the VSI Alliance and their charter of enhancing SoC design through IP standards against the FSA, champions of the fabless semiconductor community. QIP (VSIA) against the IP ecosystem Tool Suite (FSA). Politics plays a big part in this “who has the best IP qualification? competition, but politics should have no part in standards proposals and development.

It’s difficult enough to recognize the need for a standard for some piece of a chip, such as IP; develop the proposed standard to the satisfaction of a broad range of potential users; and then get the industry at large to embrace and use the new proposal, ultimately turning it into a de facto or real standard. Having two competing proposals for a standard really interferes with this process, especially the industry acceptance part.

Having two proposed IP vendor/product evaluations that do, essentially, the same thing – allow the IP integrator to compare IP cores and their vendors – serves no useful function. The competition for an IP qualification metric does not lead to a better product and won’t reduce cost – there is none. Let’s take political motivation out of the development of industry standards for the engineering community and concentrate on the ultimate goal of making the designer’s job easier and faster. Play nice, everyone.

Posted by admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: February 25, 2007, 1:13 pm | No Comments »