Designers who've been awaiting the next quantum jump in hardware abstraction should take heart: The Rosetta system-level design language is being readied for entrance into the standardization stream.
According to Perry Alexander of the University of Kansas' Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a Draft Language Standard will be submitted to Accellera, a broad industry coalition for standard approval, by the end of this year.
If all goes well, Alexander's Rosetta Committee will submit the Draft Language Standard in November or December for review by the other Technical Committee chairs. If the standard passes muster with them, it then moves on to the Accellera board for approval.
Rosetta uses concepts such as domains and models of computation to describe systems in abstracted fashion that's independent of how they will ultimately be implemented. After passing on a Draft Language Standard for approval, the next step in the process is to define the domains in which engineers can work. According to Alexander, those definitions will lag behind the language standard by a few months.
"Domains provide languages to engineers to express their models in," Alexander explained. "For example, a digital designer will have a digital language while an analog designer will have an analog language. What Rosetta is intended to do, under the hood, is to pull all of these definitions together and allow the system engineer to understand the overall impact on the system of decisions made in any one of those domains."
For instance, if a designer changes the functional requirement for a microprocessor in a cell phone, how might that change affect the security of communication with that phone? Here, one domain is the digital design of the microprocessor and another is the security properties desired in the phone. The ongoing work to define these domains will determine how well they can predict interaction among themselves.
Ultimately, it's hoped that Rosetta will find its way to commercialization. It has already done so in a limited way: Adaptive Computing of Dayton, Ohio, has used Rosetta to create tools for system-level test vector generation and component retrieval and reuse. Alexander says that interest has been expressed in using Rosetta to model business processes.
"No one's interested in a new language," he said. "They're interested in a new solution to problems. If we can't continue to demonstrate that Rosetta is a new solution to problems, then the language can be as cool as we want but no one will ever adopt it."
Accellera Rosetta Committee
Rosetta Technical Homepage