New IEEE standard promises IP protection
New IEEE standard promises IP protection
By Richard Goering, EE Times
January 27, 1999 (8:39 p.m. EST)
BOULDER, Colo. Marking a major milestone for the EDA and silicon intellectual property (IP) communities, the Open Model Interface (OMI) a language-neutral interface between models and simulation tools has been accepted as the IEEE 1499 standard. OMI could greatly facilitate the exchange and protection of IP, but questions remain about its ability to handle complex data types.
OMI is a standard, procedural interface into which Verilog, VHDL or C language models can be compiled. The resulting models can be used with any OMI-compliant simulator, greatly accelerating model availability. From an IP standpoint, the compiled models are distributed in a secure, executable object format.
What's needed now are OMI-compliant simulators and IP. And the Virtual Socket Interface (VSI) alliance needs to establish that OMI is capable of meeting its requirements for hierarchical interfaces.
The new standard is the culmination of a large-scale industry effort launched in 1994 with the Open Model Forum (OMF). The first public specification appeared in 1996. The OMF later spun off the IEEE P1499 technical committee, which honed the spec into the standard that's been accepted by the IEEE.
With standardization, OMI is "no longer a moving target," said Will Hobbs, validation manager at Intel Corp. and chairman of OMF. "What OMI allows you to do is to compile RTL into binary object code that can't be reverse engineered. It opens a very secure form of encryption," he said.
Gabe Moretti, vice president of engineering at VeriBest and chairman of the P1499 technical committee, noted that the current version of OMI is a superset of the Synopsys Swift interface. While no commercial simulators currently support OMI, Moretti said, most support Swift, making a transition to full OMI support relatively easy.
Moretti said that Cadence, Ikos, Model Technology, and VeriBest have pl edged to support OMI. Among IP vendors, he said, the only commitment so far has come from Denali Software, which has linked its Memory Modeler product to OMI.
Cadence has several tools that support the OMI interface today, according to Rahm Shastry, director of strategic marketing for Cadence Design Systems Inc. (San Jose, Calif.). He identified these tools as Signal Processing Worksystem, Verilog-XL, Affirma NC Verilog, Affirma NC VHDL, Leapfrog, and the Virtual Component Co-design (VCC) products from the Felix initiative.
"The IEEE 1499 OMI standard ushers in the age of a single verification model for multiple tools," said Kevin Curtis, vice president and HDL division manager for Mentor Graphics Corp. (Wilsonville, Ore). Curtis said the ModelSim products from Mentor's Model Technology subsidiary support Swift now, and that "customer needs for the IEEE 1499 OMI standard will drive future announcements."
OMI's role in IP protection will have a lot to do with VSI's endorsement of the s tandard. Larry Rosenberg, chairman of the VSI technical committee, said that VSI has a "deep interest" in OMI, but needs to confirm that it can handle the complex data types needed to describe abstract, system-level behavior.
VSI, said Rosenberg, is currently defining a hierarchical interface structure for "virtual components," or IP blocks, that involves different levels of abstraction. VSI will then see if its interface requirements can be mapped into OMI primitives. Rosenberg said this work will be completed this summer.
"The beauty of OMI is that it allows you to link different types of models together, whether they're Verilog, VHDL or C," said Rosenberg. "They defined the interface characteristics in a consistent way, so that if it's OMI compliant, you can stitch these things together readily."
Both VHDL International (VI) and Open Verilog International (OVI) have been involved in the development of OMI. The OMF and VI jointly submitted the OMI specification to the IEEE for stand ardization and balloting. Moretti currently serves as VI chairman.
"Secure verification model exchange, as proposed by the IEEE 1499 OMI standard, hits at the heart of the IP and design reuse methodology," said Dennis Brophy, OVI chairman. "The Verilog community finally has a single, secure and open verification model exchange standard to address the design gap."
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