Electronic Design

Open-API Initiative Advances, But Will EDA Industry Cooperate?

The OpenAccess Coalition (OAC) has gotten a long-awaited boost. The group's chief technology contributor, Cadence Design Systems Inc., has signed off on a roadmap for release of the source code for its Genesis database and application programming interface (API). Now, third-party developers can begin developing a unified database and common API that would allow EDA tools from diverse vendors to operate from shared memory.

The OAC has among its backers a number of EDA vendors and users. But it's unclear if the effort will gain cooperation from Synopsys Inc. as it quibbles with Cadence over control of the standard. Pending its acquisition of Avant!, Synopsys may opt to hold out for industry standardization around the Avant! Milkyway database. "Now there will be two standards, which is way better than it is now," says Gary Smith, Gartner Dataquest's chief EDA analyst.

The OAC's deal with Cadence makes the API source code available at www.OpenEDA.org. Community members may now download Version 1 of the code from there. Note that while Version 1 is described by the OAC as a "viable database," it's meant for evaluation and early development work. Version 2 of the API and database, which Cadence is developing now, will be the official version backed by the coalition and the one on which Cadence will standardize its own tools starting in early 2003. The release roadmap has several incremental steps (see the sidebar).

Synopsys objects to the OAC's structure because of what it sees as Cadence's controlling role. "Cadence will essentially retain exclusive control over the API for the next several years," says Rich Goldman, Synopsys' VP of strategic market development. "In the case of OpenAccess, we have strong concerns about supporting a potential standard where the level of control contradicts the fundamental criteria for open source."

Changes to the API are to be managed by a 12-member change team to be elected by the OAC. Two of those 12 members will be designated "architects." One of these architects must be a Cadence employee for as long as Cadence is an active member of the coalition.

Meanwhile, according to Andy Graham, president of Silicon Integration Initiative Inc., the organization under whose aegis the OAC operates, the OAC is open to participation by any and all EDA vendors, including Synopsys. "Cadence is the company that stepped up and made the technology donation," Graham explains. "We believe that (Genesis) is the best available alternative for customers to rally behind at this point in time."

For its part, Synopsys has declined to comment on whether or not it would consider contributing the Milkyway technology to OpenAccess until the Avant! acquisition is complete.

For details about OpenAccess, visit www.OpenEDA.org.

OpenAccess Source Code Roadmap
  • February 4, 2002: Cadence released OpenAccess Version 1 source code along with a refreshed set of matching binaries to the OpenAccess Coalition. Source code is now available to the community at large.

  • February, 2002: Cadence released the OpenAccess Version 2 API reference document to the OpenAccess Coalition.

  • April 8, 2002: The OpenAccess Version 2 API reference document became available at www.OpenEDA.org

  • Second quarter, 2002: Cadence will release to the OAC a major incremental version of next-generation code suitable for exploratory development on the OpenAccess Version 2 database.

  • Fourth quarter, 2002: Cadence will release to the OAC the OpenAccess Version 2 database code, including the entire implementation and infrastructure needed to create database programs.

  • Early first quarter, 2003: OpenAccess Version 2 binaries and source code will become available to the community at large.

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