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Archive for May 28th, 2010

Karen Bartleson’s Book & The Nature of Standards Groups

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Karen Bartleson’s book on Standards, for which I was pleased to write a blurb for its front pages, is now out:  As I indicate in my blurb, Karen’s book does a very good job of illuminating the sometimes murky world of Standards, EDA and otherwise.

It may seem odd that I would highlight and praise a book written by an employee of a major rival.  In fact, for those whose views of Standards are centered around the so-called “Standards Wars”, this may appear really odd.  Indeed, in the heyday of EDA journalism, periodically such “wars” played out on the front pages of various “newspapers”.  Because of this, there are many who still view EDA Standards groups as places where the basic tenor is one of conflict between the participants.

There is some reason behind this perception.  To paraphrase Karen 5th commandment: “Realize there is no neutral party”.  A company like Cadence, for which I work, or Synopsys, for which Karen works, spends enough (between dues and cost of participating employees) on EDA Standards to fund a nice-sized engineering group(s).  They (and multiple other companies, including companies that use EDA standards) spend large sums in this area precisely because EDA Standards are critical to their business interests.  Hence, they are not neutral to the results that come out of the Standards groups, and no one ought to be surprised when conflicts of interest occasionally erupt into a “war”.

But this is only a small part of the picture, and ignores the overarching cooperative nature of Standards activities.  Indeed, in what other forum can one find representatives from Cadence, Synopsys, Mentor and other EDA companies working in a (for the most part) cooperative manner?  Moreover, it is not only EDA companies that sit with their competitors at these meetings: it surprises no one to find companies like Intel, AMD and ARM sitting side by side in a Standards meeting.  At the end, the fact that competitors are willing to sit down with each other, and are often willing to extend non-discriminatory licenses on reasonable (often no cost) terms to what was previously proprietary technology, reveals the essential nature of a standards meeting—it is a tension-filled peace conference, not the battlefield itself.

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