Normally I would post this Accellera update during DVCon US but, no surprise, this year is weird. Particularly in conferences going virtual. The last DVCon was in early March of this year, right on the cusp of the shutdown. I was there in person, as was Lu Dai (Chairman of Accellera). Both Synopsys and Cadence had dropped out, citing safety, though presentations continued (not sure about the exhibits). Lu reminded me that, as thanks for our fortitude, DVCon was one of the best places to find hand sanitizer, out of stock everywhere else!
We talked about how the pandemic had affected standards development. Lu saw a net positive for members having to work from home and conference virtually. As an international organization, it has been easier to get everyone together, even if meeting schedules weren’t always convenient. Attendance has been higher, and meetings more frequent. He said that when working groups (WGs) put together their plans, the board worried they were too aggressive. But it turned out they’ve been pretty close – more is getting done faster after all.
PSS 2.0 and UVM-AMS
PSS 2.0, now in public review has certainly accelerated its schedule. What I find telling here is Lu’s view of the new release. He’s a user after all (at Qualcomm) as well as the chair of Accellera. Qualcomm is a major adopter of the standard. They saw 1.0 as a good start but not production-ready because they needed to do quite a lot of patching when building on proprietary implementations. In this new release they see a production-ready vendor-neutral solution they’re ready to adopt in full. As I said, a telling viewpoint.
UVM-AMS is a very new effort, launched only late last year. The WG have already developed what they call a design objective document (DOD), all the capabilities they want to be covered in the standard. Next, they’re going to be voting on which of those capabilities should make it into the first release. According to Lu, this is a pretty fast pace, much faster than normal. Again, a silver lining from the pandemic.
IP security and functional safety
The IP Security assurance working group is also progressing. Lu clarified (for me at least) that this will be an annotation standard which should get to release potentially faster than some other working groups. They’re working quite closely with Mitre. Mitre is already well established as a centralized resource for common vulnerabilities and exposure, originally in software, now also in hardware. IPSA is tying into the Mitre security threat database in hardware. The objective then is how that threat information carries over in markup for use by EDA tools. Details here are still evolving.
On functional safety, the Accellera working group is working closely with the IEEE functional safety working group and have agreed a division of tasks. Accellera focuses more on the hardware side, IEEE works more on the software and higher layers. Yet another area moving at a fast pace, internal email updates almost every day and regular joint meetings with IEEE. On coordination with broader standards activities (notably ISO 26262) Lu doesn’t see a problem. Given linkages between Accellera and IEEE, and already well established member linkages with ISO 26262 there’s lot of interaction between standard activities. By design a lot of Accellera and IEEE work here is complimentary to the ISO 26262 focus, and there are enough channels to cross-check.
On DVCon, the other main focus for Accellera, I already mentioned the US 2020 conference. DVCon China cancelled since it was scheduled right in the middle of that country’s own battle with the pandemic. DVCon Europe had more time to prepare and was able to pull off a very impressive virtual conference. In fact I attended and wrote up one of the talks, though apparently I didn’t take advantage of the full virtual experience at the show. Lu was so impressed he plans to use the same platform for any other virtual events. Honestly from my perspective, I’d love to see all conferences go virtual even after the pandemic is over. May be tough on the travel and convention center industries but way easier on the rest of us!
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