STM, Synopsys in 3-year R&D deal

STM, Synopsys in 3-year R&D dealNews from E-InSite
In a move that is sure to set off a firestorm of debate in the already contentious areaof finding a standard system-level design language, Synopsys Inc. today is announcing thatit has formalized its system design partnership with STMicroelectronics.
The two are to spend the next three years developing the platform of software forhardware/software co-design based on SystemC, Synopsys’ favored C++ system design approachand the center of a quasi-independent effort to make that approach a standard.
That STM and Synopsys are partnering for electronic design automation (EDA) tools isnot at all unusual. In fact, the project detailed today began nine months ago, and theirrelationship long before that.
Synopsys in September trademarked SystemC and set up the “Open SystemC”initiative as ostensibly an open source development vehicle similar to that used withLinux, where there is a community of developers who get the code, find bugs and hone thesoftware.
But Synopsys and Co-Ware Inc., which did much of the work behind the SystemC”class library” for C++, set up Open SystemC with a licensing agreement that 70companies have signed. The agreement states the SystemC intellectual property is forinternal use only, a stipulation that has many EDA vendors up in arms.
“I take that to mean that we can’t develop commercial tools from it,” saidDennis Brophy, president of Mentor Graphics Corp. subsidiary Model Technology and chairmanof the standards body Open Verilog International. “We have made it clear that we needto see changes in the licensing. Right now it is onerous, and we won’t agree to it.”Cadence Design Systems Inc. hasn’t agreed to it either, and CynApps Inc., which has acompeting class library to SystemC, is apoplectic.
However, Pierre Paulin, director of the Embedded Systems Technology group at STMCentral R&D in Grenoble, France, said Friday that SystemC is totally open andindependent. The tools that Synopsys and STM are developing a system architect tool, aSystemC hardware synthesis tool and a floating point-to-fixed point digital signalprocessor (DSP) code tool are wholly separate from the standard, SystemC.
The software roadmap based on SystemC is at the absolute leading edge. The SynopsysR&D group in Aachen, Germany will be a major contributor. The floating point-to-fixedpoint DSP software technology was used to produce STM’s Zipper VDSLmodem, released in November, and would be a critical and very advantageous component indesigning devices using third-generation (3G) wireless communications.
“STM is getting early access to technologies and tools that are leveraging SystemC.The partnership is not about SystemC,” Paulin said. “There should not be aproprietary advantage. STM’s desire is to have as many companies participating in OpenSystemC as possible.” The development work the open source SystemC community willaccomplish will be to everyone’s benefit, he said.
“Synopsys is developing SystemC-based tools for the entire industry,” saidYakin Turnahan, manager of technology partnerships for the System Level Design businessunit at Synopsys.
But if the open source community that is Open SystemC cannot also develop tools, whyshould the signatory companies such as a major STM competitor like Motorola pour theirengineering resources into making SystemC more robust and capable, in essence, a strongerlibrary? Haven’t they voiced their dissatisfaction with the seemingly un-level playingfield and Synopsys has seen to it that the licensing agreement is changed?
Not yet.
“Soon,” said a Synopsys spokeswoman.
“Any progress (on changes in the SystemC licensing agreement) from the lastannouncement has not been public yet,” she said. So, Synopsys and STM will have theirSystemC tools development head into its fourth quarter in a couple of weeks while the OpenSystemC community waits for that.
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