SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS, France Beach Solutions Ltd., a co-founder of a fast-track intellectual property standards consortium called Spirit (Structure for Packaging, Integrating, and Re-using IP within Tool flows), has been forced to take a back seat in the organization.
Beach Solutions founded Spirit along with Philips Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics, ARM Holdings plc, Cadence Design Systems Inc., Mentor Graphics Corp. and Synopsys Inc. Their aim was to ensure that circuit IP cores could be more easily transferred between IP vendors, EDA companies, semiconductor and systems companies.
Unlike other larger members, consortium officials said Beach was unable to immediately contribute IP to the project.
Spirit was launched at the Design Automation Conference in June.
Ralph von Vignau, director of platform infrastructure at Philips Semiconductor and consortium chairman, said duri ng a progress report at an industry forum here on Wednesday (Oct. 8) that Spirit is now a legal entity. However, Beach's name was notable by its absence during the presentation.
The main thrust of the group is the use of metadata to describe parameterized, configurable circuit blocks which could then automatically configure in a user's design.
As recently as August, Terry McCloskey, chief executive officer of Beach Solutions, was expounding the benefits of schema implemented in XML to describe the structure of design objects and the relationships among them.
Beach Solutions focuses on this area, and it remains a key part of Spirit's technical work.
von Vignau said Spirit's core group had been reduced to the six major companies who will determine its standards. He said it was decided that each participant must contribute to the fast-track process and that the resulting standard would then be donated to the industry. He also said users would be indemnified against future royalty or patent infri ngement claims.
"They [Beach Solutions] didn't feel capable to contribute IP into the system. They're still a member but they couldn't fulfill what was needed in the timescale required," said Vignau. "These things are often difficult for small companies."
Vignau said companies like Philips and STMicroelectronics, who collaborated on process technology at the Crolles2 fab, moved to allow the IP exchange and could not wait for industry groups to create a standard. "For Philips and ST it was pretty shameful that we couldn't share IP," he said.
Vignau said a proposed metadata standard coud be completed by the end of 2003, and that pilot projects would begin in the first quarter of 2004. He added that projects would be taken through to silicon as part of commercial designs.
"Speaking for Philips, the pilot will be run in a business unit. B ut we haven't decided which one yet. And because of the timescale I am assuming it will be at 90-nm, although it could be 120-nm process," he said.
The gro up has commitments from ST and ARM Ltd. as well as from the tool vendors to support the spec.
Vignau said he expected 30 to 35 additional companies would sign up within the first few months as users and observers of the developing standards.