Towards building a bigger pie ...
Synopsys launches TLMCentral
by Peggy Aycinena
Synopsys has launched a new website and wants you to know that it's there for you, particularly if you're the kind of guy who's interested in design based on transaction-level modeling [TLM] and/or virtual prototyping [VP].
It's called TLMCentral and you should check it out ...
The new website launched at 6 am this morning, September 29th, but I spoke by phone with Synopsys' Tom De Schutter and Sheryl Gulizia three days ago during the company's pre-launch press tour. Tom and Sheryl patiently answered my predictability skeptical questions, and politely noted that it's always good to talk with a devil's advocate when new technologies are being explored.
Monday, September 26th ...
* Devil's Advocate: Isn’t the industry going to see this as a Synopsys-specific site promoting Synopsys models?
* Tom De Schutter: We didn't build it to be Synopsys-specific, but to help users find which TLM models are available industry-wide. Models from EDA vendors and IP vendors and everybody else. We want to help designers get over the hurdle of finding the right model [at the outset of the design process]. The website is designed to do that, plus to [motivate the industry] to increase the number of models available.
* DA: But aren't designers using Google and other search engines already to find models?
* TDS: Yeah, but those models are more hidden. It's just not that easy. For instance, ARM has a set of models, but it's not their main business. Also, there's an open source aspect to this new website.
There are a lot of universities using our tools, and they're developing tools for our research. They want to engage with the industry [in this effort], so we're also addressing that by building an open source community [through the TLMCentral website]. The community aspect is being built right into it, helping to get the information out there about models.
* DA: But still, what do you do about the skeptics who see this as a move to promote Synopsys?
* TDS: [To address those doubts], we've worked really hard to have a lot of partners. The website is not branded as Synopsys, and although there might be skepticism that only Synopsys will be putting their models there, we actually have 24 companies that are participating [in the launch].
* DA: Okay, good. So, how do you get the word out about this?
* TDS: Well, we're doing it at SNUG in Boston on September 29th. Aart de Geus will mention it in his keynote, plus our partners will be promoting it to their users. There will also be promotions over other websites like EE Times and Design&Reuse, and through engagements with customers.
And hopefully, there will also be some word-of-mouth getting out there with information about the website. [We're even engaging] with our competitors. Carbon Design Systems, for instance, has a propriety model and they will be participating, listing their models on our portal.
* DA: So, give me the long-term view. Where will all of this be 5 years from now?
* TDS: Hopefully, the website will actually be something that's industry supported. From our point of view, it won't have to be Synopsys that controls it. There will be multiple parties sharing control, and sponsoring the portal. There will be a big open source community that customers can use as a starting point for building virtual prototypes. The success of the portal [will be built] on making those customers more successful.
Also 5 years from now, hopefully there won't just be models, but entire systems. So, if you want a virtual OMAP, maybe TI will list entire subsystems there that you can pull together and do designs with.
* DA: Wow. Does TI know they're part of your future plans?
* TDS: Yeah, TI is one of the companies that's endorsing TLMCentral. They've got a quote in the press release. Again, this is about making sure people will know what models are available. It's not about making the models available for free.
* DA: Then could we go back to that 'open source' thing? In my opinion, the EDA industry hasn't a clue even how to spell the phrase 'open source'.
* TDS: So again, this website is not about open source models. It's a communication portal about what's available. We're not trying to say that the commercial models will become open source. What this is about, is making sure that people understand what's available. It's about building that community between users and [vendors]. It's not Synopsys saying, “TLM Central is out there, so let's donate models.”
Of course, we will continue to sell our models, as will ARM and TI, etc., but at least customers will know what's available. Right now, virtual prototyping is still growing and is not yet mainstream. We don't claim it is. But hopefully, 5 years from now, it will be.
Right now, you can buy virtual prototyping boards online, you can see them for a specific platform, so why not make sure that people know there's a virtual source out there for those models? That there's a catalog online that shows them what different prototypes are available. The 'open source' part of this is about getting people to that starting point.
* DA: Okay, then why not launch this with other players in the industry? Why not link arms with Cadence and Mentor, for example, and do it together? Or, why not have Accellera do it?
* TDS: We have no problems with that, but we felt that the easiest way to get it started was just to do it, and then to work with the industry to make it a standard, and then to talk with the other players about how to move forward.
It's never been about sole ownership for Synopsys. Hopefully there will be be a consortium at some point that can take this over, that can drive it as an open portal in the sense that it's being driven by multiple companies, not just Synopsys.
* DA: Should I issue a public letter then to Mentor and Cadence? “Please come help us!”
* TDS: Well, now that it's launched, certainly Cadence and Mentor and Carbon are all aware of it. We told them exactly this: that we're open to discussing what must happen later on, and how we can all work together to make sure [it's a success].
* DA: And Accellera?
* TDS: Yeah, that would be good, but it hasn't happened. OSCI is busy deciding what their future is [in conjunction] with Accellera, so we felt it just wasn’t an opportune time to go that route. From our point of view, if Accellera is interested in running it, that would be the most ideal home for this portal later on.
Again, we felt that for right now we wanted to be careful. For right now, we wanted to get the thing done and grab the attention [of the industry] that there's a portal out there. That models are available is really a key piece in getting users started and interested in virtual prototyping. This portal is going to make it easier to get people's attention about the opportunities waiting for them there.
* DA: Okay, final question. Again, isn't this really about promoting Synopsys products?
* TDS: Look, we want to make the pie bigger. We'd rather have a slice of a bigger pie, not a smaller pie. We want to grow the industry. We want to make it easier to have models. We want to promote the adoption of virtual prototyping.
Again, it’s not about making our models, or ARM's models, or anybody’s models available for free. It about building things on top of the tools, and hoping that there will be a toolset out there for virtual prototyping. Tensilica, ARM, etc. are making their models available, and interoperable with the tools.
That's where we want to capture a bigger piece of the market. That's what we want, to make sure is happening by launching this portal. It's good for our business. It's good for the users. It's good for the industry.
Wednesday, September 28th ...
Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us Monday about TLMCentral. Tom and I appreciated your perspective and the lively discussion. New models were added after our call, so I’m sending the final version of all documents for your reference. We now have more than 600 models listed on TLMCentral.
Worldwide Public Relations
From the Press Release ...
"Using an intuitive search interface, engineers can rapidly find models at varying levels of speed and accuracy that are available for their design blocks. These models are contributed by leading IP vendors around the world including ARM, Arteris, CEVA, MIPS, Sonics, Synopsys, Tensilica and Vivante; leading service providers including HCL Technologies and Kasura; and leading research institutes including Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and RWTH Aachen University. In addition, TLMCentral offers industry news, forums and blogs to connect the TLM community."
September 29, 2011
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