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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Standards: the Elephant jumped over the Moon

October 24th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Let’s just be bold and identify the elephant in the room: If IP providers and/or EDA tool vendors really wanted standards that were ubiquitous, complete, and effective, they would have implemented them years ago. But they don’t. Similarly, if IP users and/or EDA tool users really wanted standards that were universal, robust and truly useful, they would have demanded them years ago. But they don’t.

The truth is that IP providers are happiest when they’re insisting that their proprietary interface is the best, and ergo should be the de-facto industry standard. And it goes without saying that whatever they’re providing inside of their black box is, of course, best-in-class. Certainly no standards are ever going to be inserted in there, and for good reason! Full stop.

Meanwhile, IP users clearly consider the problem of integrating IP into their projects as an accepted, even advantageous cost of doing business here in the 21st century. The way they integrate third-party IP into their systems is tantamount to a secret sauce – one that’s cooked up in NDA arrangements between the user and the provider – and not something any IP user wants to make public by way of standards, or any other device, for fear their hard work learning/mastering the integration of IP, if revealed, might give a leg-up to the competition.

And it’s the same with the EDA tool vendors who are always happiest when their offerings are all-inclusive and require the minimum of coloring outside the lines by their customers. After all, what the EDA vendor’s providing is best-in-class, so why should a customer ever want to buy an untested, wonky point tool from some two-bit startup? So yeah, we’ll pay lip service to standards: I demand a universal data exchange format! (But let’s not really pursue them to completion, because that might make it easier for the wonky guys to get a seat at the table.)

Meanwhile, the EDA users are right in there, sitting in the room with the elephant along with everybody else, insisting that they will never reveal their flow, their methodology, the exact tools they use, the order in which they use them, or the scripts they’ve developed that knit it all together. After all, this is their secret sauce and the thing that differentiates their cool design technique and route to time-to-market/time-to-volume from their lesser colleagues, their less-successful competition. Yeah, I’m an EDA tool user and I demand standards! (Of course, not really – but it would be politically incorrect to say so.) Are you listening? I demand standards!

So there you have it: The elephant in the room. And yeah, yeah, yeah: Standards, like cleanliness, are next to godliness. I’m just saying, most elephants prefer a good mud bath.

Put in different terms: We can put a man on the moon, but we ain’t ever going to send an elephant.


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