The SPIRIT Consortium Approves IP-XACT Version 1.5

John Donovan, Editor-in-Chief

The SPIRIT Consortium has approved version 1.5 of its IP-XACT specification for handoff to the IEEE P1685 working group. Building on the IP-XACT 1.4 specification, this version of IP-XACT extends the IP-XACT data model to more complete description of the register data and address maps.

The IP-XACT specification provides a machine readable XML structure for IP modules and systems databooks. The XML data documents many different aspects of electronic design elements, enabling designers using IP-XACT tools to automatically create many different expressions of a design in a consistent and correlated way. Design and verification engineers will benefit from using this available specification through the automation of testbench creation and exploration.

IP-XACT 1.5 will be handed off to the IEEE Standards Association for consideration as an industry standard. This technical specification, known as the IP-XACT design-exchange format, comprehensively addresses support for integrated multi-vendor ESL and RTL design and verification flows. The specification is available for review on The SPIRIT Consortium web site at

The IEEE P1685 working group is focused on building industry adoption and ratifying an open industry meta-data standard for IP providers, EDA vendors, and independent design manufacturers to help build real marketplace benefit for efficient design tool and IP integration.

The Accellera SPIRIT

On June 11 Accellera and The SPIRIT Consortium announced their intention to merge. This announcement was well covered before we could report it, but a few follow-on comments:

The merger makes sense on a number of levels. Accellera has been a leader in language-based standards, including Verilog or IEEE 1364; VHDL or IEEE1076; SystemVerilog or IEEE 1800; Unified Power Format (UPF) or IEEE P1801; and the Open Model Interface (OMI) or IEEE 1499. The SPIRIT Consortium is the leading standards organization focusing on IP deployment and reuse. Both of these areas are of critical importance to SoC designers, and both need to be considered together if we’re ever to see a smooth implementation of system-level, low-power design.

Both organizations work in a similar fashion, setting standards that they then pass to the IEEE for ratification. Both share member companies, and both have similar cultures and structures. According to Ralph von Vignau, President of The SPIRIT Consortium, “Within our organizations there are several areas where we are very complementary and close cooperation will be beneficial. Both organizations are aligned on the path to formal standards through the IEEE. With this merger we can use our resources, both human and infrastructure, more effectively to develop and deploy industry-driven standards.”

In an interview with Low-Power Design, Shrenik Mehta, Accellera chair, explained, “Accellera has been doing open standards work in language-based design. However, IP deployment and reuse have become critical as part of integrated design process. With the addition of IP knowledge, we can now take design to the next level.” Enabling IP assembly and reuse within a high-level design model would finally enable a smooth, system-level design tool flow.

According to SPIRIT’s von Vignau, “The various design standards need to work together. Designing IP is one thing, getting the various IP blocks to work together is quite another. You need to look more at the flow rather than just a single element.” That’s where Accellera comes in.

The merger could also help accelerate adoption of IP-XACT, an important interface specification, but one that has been slow to take off. The combined companies will be better positioned to promote the spec together, a definite plus for SoC designers.

Low-Power Design

A bigger plus for designers would be the emergence of a common format for specifying power intent and setting it up as a constraint that works throughout the design flow. Two power management standards that clearly need to merge are Cadence’s Common Power Format (CPF), now an Si2 standard, and Accellera’s Unified Power Format (UPF, IEEE P1801). The Low Power Coalition at Si2 is working on converging the two standards, but it will happen none too soon.

SPIRIT’s Eric von Vignau again: “CPF and UPF have to come together. IP is the best way to express constraints. We believe that if we package the constraints that you require to do power management, if you can express them in a neutral way, there’s is no value to having two standards after that. Either one standard will remain, or one will pick up part of the other, or there will be two standards. I believe the industry will demand a single standard. If there are features missing that you need, they can be merged into the existing IEEE standards.”

The political battles of two years ago will finally be resolved in a technical committee, and low-power design will take a great leap forward.

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