What is Open about Si2 OpenAccess?

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By Marshall Tiner
Director of Production Standards

What is open about Si2 OpenAccess?

It seems these days everything is “open,” and the terms get confusing. Here is a short history of a few key areas to help clarify things. The label “open source” is credited to the free software movement of 1998. In February of that year, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded and the Open Source Definition adopted. OSI tried to trademark the term “open source,” in an effort to control its usage.

So, what does open source mean?

The term refers to a licensing methodology whereby the source code is made publicly available. Depending on the license terms, others may then download, modify, and publish their version (fork) back to the community. The Apache Software Foundation’s license has become a standard within the open source world.

Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) was born out of the 1988 CAD Framework Initiative (CFI), with a goal of enabling design tool interoperability. Cadence developed the OpenAccess API to standardize the design database, which resulted in interoperability between design databases from different tool suppliers. With the contribution of the OpenAccess API, the OpenAccess Coalition was formed within Si2. To the design tool user this meant a huge productivity increase when using tools from different suppliers.

Before the OpenAccess Coalition, designs, measurements, and results were passed back and forth between tools via time-consuming, error-prone, file transfers. OpenAccess in effect “opened” the design database so all coalition members could develop tools that shared the database. This removed the cost of the file transfer and allowed two tools to act upon the same data. While file transfer seems like a small thing, it can represent significant cost-of-engineering time on a large design. In addition, it enables the user to check-fix-check errors one at a time instead of several at a time, reducing long file transfer time. Ultimately it benefitted the entire industry enabling “best of “design flows, which are very common today.

So is OpenAccess open source software?

The answer is no. The difference is who the software is open to. OpenAccess is licensed much like open source software, though not open to the general public. The license requires Si2 membership which helps provide the resources required to keep the standard viable for use. There is a significant resource investment associated with OpenAccess. OpenAccess Coalition members have access to the source code and some of the derivative products (called Extensions) to use and even modify if necessary. Much like the Open Software Foundation works for the general public, Si2 and the OpenAccess Coalition provide a means of collaborative development for design product interaction/interoperability. The really great part is that the members realize a 1/N cost advantage developing the standard together rather than each doing it alone.

Is Si2 OpenAccess “open?”

Yes, OpenAccess is open to the OpenAccess Coalition membership, which consists of many electronic design automation tool development companies, and semiconductor companies, that’s pretty open.

Membership cost is based upon the company revenue to allow an easy entry point into the EDA business. A small company can quickly become compatible with the larger suppliers and “plug right into the design flow”. There is no better way to take a new EDA company into the market. Come join the OpenAccess Coalition and align the future with your company’s needs.

Prashant Varshney of Mentor Graphics Elected to Si2 OpenAccess Board

Prashant Varshney is Mentor Graphics’ newly elected representative on the Si2 OpenAccess Coalition board of directors and OpenAccess Change Team.

Prashant is the group director of Product Marketing at Mentor, where he oversees marketing efforts for the new design platform for developing mixed-signal IoT SoCs, senors, MEMS, silicon photonics and industrial IoT applications. Previously at Mentor he led product management, development and deployment for various ASIC design products in the physical design, formal verification and static timing analysis space, such as Olympus, Nitro, Optimus and FormalPro.

Prashant holds an MSEE from Stanford University.

The Si2 OpenAccess Coalition board oversees operational decisions for OpenAccess, the world’s most widely used, open reference database for IC design with a supporting standard API. The change team manages API modifications and database implementation.

Si2 University Partner Network Helps Launch EDA Career

It didn’t take long for Sushmitha Moturi to successfully leverage her volunteer experience in the Si2 University Partner Network. After earning a graduate in electrical engineering at the University of Florida, Sushmitha joined Qualcomm as an embedded software stability engineer. She credits the next network and its industry mentors for helping launch her EDA career.

“Volunteering with Si2 was a great experience and certainly helped me in my job search,” Sushmitha said. “My focus with Si2 was testing the OpenAccess Track Pattern Extension. That helped me hone my programming and debugging skills, which are essential in my job at Qualcomm.  I also learned a lot from my Si2 mentors, who were professionals in the field.”

Si2 is the industry’s most experienced, federally registered, research and development joint venture for the collaborative development of standard, interoperable, EDA software. The Si2 University Partner Network connects qualified engineering student-partners to their future employers in a program that offers real-world, electronic design automation job experience. Partners strengthen their resumes and broaden their network with prospective  employers, while employers identify and work with prospective employees.

The network is currently accepted applications for new partners.  For complete information visit http://www.si2.org/si2-eda-university-partner-network/

David Lin Joins Si2 University Partner Network

Sheng-En David Lin, a Phd candidate in Electrical Engineering at Washington State University, has been accepted into the Si2 University Partner Network. His work for Si2 will help validate portions of a new Power Modeling standard which is being contributed to the IEEE P2416 Working Group.  This standard is aimed at system level IP blocks and will serve power data to IEEE 1801 power state models.

David’s research interests include modeling for VLSI circuits and systems and algorithms for VLSI CAD automation, with current focus on physical design methodologies of multi-tier gate-level monolithic 3-D ICs.

The Si2 University Partner Network connects qualified engineering student-partners to their future employers in a program that offers real-world, electronic design automation job experience. Partners strengthen their resumes and broaden their network with prospective employers, while employers identify and work with prospective employees. For more information click here.

MediaTek Joins Si2 OpenAccess Coalition

Si2 welcomes MediaTek Inc. as the newest member of the OpenAccess Coalition. The OpenAccess Database is the world’s most widely used, open reference database for IC design, with a supporting standard API.  It was developed to create authentic interoperability between EDA companies and semiconductor designers and manufacturers. Its adoption has improved design flow efficiency across the industry.

MediaTek (TWSE: 2454) is a global fabless semiconductor company that enables 1.5 billion connected devices a year. They are a market leader in developing innovative systems-on-chip (SoC) for mobile device, home entertainment, connectivity and IoT products.