December 20, 2004
Free Software
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

At the University of California at Berkley the Berkeley Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG), funded by DARPA, became the most important source of Unix development outside of Bell Labs. Bill Joy SUN co-founder worked there. The efforts at the university led to a flavor of UNIX know as BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) UNIX as distinct from the AT&T version knows as System III and later as System V. The BSD version was seen as more experimental and innovative. This led to the “UNIX” wars.

AT&T and SUN, the leading advocate of the BSD version, announced a pact to try and unify the market. However, other vendors were concerned. They joined together to form the Open Software Foundation (OSF). The AT&T/SUN group formed UNIX International.

In the end System V won the standards wars. However, System V incorporated many BSD innovations, so that the end result was more of a merger of the two versions.

In 1993, AT&T sold its UNIX System Laboratory to Novell. In 1994 Novell transferred the rights to the UNIX trademark and the specification (that subsequently became the Single UNIX Specification) to The Open Group (at the time X/Open Company). The Open Group defines itself as a vendor-neutral and technology-neutral consortium and has a vision of “Boundaryless Information Flow” achieved through global interoperability in a secure, reliable and timely manner. In 1995 Novell also sold the source code and the product implementation (UNIXWARE) to SCO.

Although Linux is UNIX-like its code is not a derivative of UNIX. It has been alleged that some UNIX code has found its way into Linux. This is the basis of several well publicized actual and threatened lawsuits filed by SCO.

Today, the definition of UNIX ® takes the form of the worldwide Single UNIX Specification integrating X/Open Company's XPG4, IEEE's POSIX Standards and ISO C. Through continual evolution, the Single UNIX Specification is the defacto and dejure standard definition for the UNIX system application programming interfaces. Since the introduction of the Single UNIX Specification, there has been a single, open, consensus specification that defines the requirements for a conformant UNIX system.

There is also a mark, or brand, that is used to identify those products that have been certified as conforming to the Single UNIX Specification, initially UNIX 93, followed subsequently by UNIX 95, UNIX 98 and now UNIX 03.

Mozilla Firefox

In early November Mozilla announced the availability of the Firefox 1.0 web browser. Firefox is a free, open-source web browser for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X and is based on the Mozilla codebase. Over eight million people downloaded a highly successful Preview Release. There have been 5.6 million downloads of Firefox 1.0 in the first two weeks and 10 million downloads in the first month after being made available on the Internet.

Major new features In Firefox include
Integrated Pop-up Blocking

Online Fraud Protection - helps users protect against "phishing" and "spoofing"

Faster, Easier, More Accessible Search - support for leading search services into the toolbar, including Google search, Yahoo!, eBay

More Efficient Browsing - Tabbed Browsing

Extensible with Hundreds of Add-ons

Easy Migration - from Internet Explorer and other browsers
Firefox is said to be more secure than Internet Explorer from Microsoft. There is no support for VBScript and ActiveX, two technologies which are the reasons for many IE security holes. Firefox doesn't use Microsoft's Java VM, which has a history of more flaws than other Java VMs. Spyware/adware software can not automatically install in Firefox just by visiting a web site. It is not integrated with Windows, which helps prevent viruses and hackers from causing damage if they somehow manage to compromise Firefox.

In January 1998 Netscape Communications Corporation enabled users to download the Netscape Communicator client The firm also initiated an “Unlimited Distribution” program that enabled OEMs, ISPs, Web content providers, software developers and so forth download and redistribute Netscape Communicator and Netscape Navigator easily with "no strings attached." The company further offered the source code of Communicator for free.

In July 2003 the Mozilla Foundation was established with support (a pledge of $2 million) from America Online's Netscape division to provide organizational, legal, and financial support for the Mozilla open-source software project. The Mozilla Foundation will continue and expand on the efforts of, the group managing the daily operations of the Mozilla project since its inception. provides open source Internet client software that includes a browser, mail and news functionality, and a toolkit for developing web-based applications.

Mozilla was the original code name for the product that came to be known as Netscape Navigator, and later, Netscape Communicator. Mozilla was also the name of dinosaur-like company mascot.


In early November SofJin released a free suite of IC design layout data exchange libraries and tools for use by IC designers and EDA product companies. This includes GDSII and OASIS readers, writers and GDSII-to-OASIS translator, in source code form. The software suite named Anuvad includes one of the earliest available tools to handle the OASIS format. OASIS (Open Artwork System Interchange Standard), promoted by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), is a new and much more compact format that is slated to replace GDSII as the standard data format used for exchanging layout data. The GDSII and OASIS reader and writer libraries enable users to develop their own
post layout analysis, editing, mask data preparation and other DFY/DFM tools. There is also a suite of utilities developed using the GDSII and OASIS libraries in source code form. The license agreement enables users to use, enhance and modify the source code to develop their own tools and utilities for internal as well as commercial use.

SoftJin is an EDA software development services company, founded in 2000 and headquartered in Bangalore, India, that develops EDA tools for the specific requirements of semiconductor and EDA companies. SoftJin has a 40 member team software development team.

According to Mr Nachiket Urdhwareshe, CEO of SoftJin, “The Anuvad suite's release shall complement SoftJin's customized EDA software development service offerings in the physical design automation, post-layout data processing and mask data preparation domain. Specifically, our aim is to be the leading player in providing customized post-layout tools as well as point tools based on OASIS. We have the capability to develop the tools that use the native features of OASIS format, thus extracting the maximum data size reduction, efficient data handling and other benefits enabled by the OASIS format."

SoftJin also offers Allied services including Design Flow services and Hardware Design and Verification services.

In this case, presumably, the motivation for offering this code for free is publicity, like this article. Potential clients learn about SoftJin and can examine the source code as a quick way to qualify a potential developer.

Note that in June Mentor Graphics announced that it will make a GDS-to-OASIS translation utility available free of charge to promote the adoption of the new OASIS standard. Also OASIS Tooling, Inc. introduced in October 2004 the Mosaic Translator, an OpenAccess-to-OASIS translator in the industry. Mosaic Translator, which is available for free until June 2005, converts design data into mask layout data far more efficiently than GDSII.


OpenAccess is a community-driven initiative, which provides an interoperability platform for complex IC design based on a common, open and extensible architecture. This is done through an open standard data access interface (API) in C++ and reference database implementation supporting that API. The Cadence Genesis database and API forms the technology base for OpenAccess.

The OpenAccess Coalition is managed under the auspices of Si2. Si2 was founded in 1988 as CAD Framework Initiative, Inc. Si2 defines itself as an organization of industry-leading companies in the semiconductor, electronic systems and EDA tool industries that is focused on improving productivity and reducing cost in creating and producing integrated silicon systems. Si2 believes that through collaborative efforts, the industry can achieve higher levels of systems-on-silicon integration while reducing the cost and complexity of integrating future design systems.

Membership in Si2 is open to any company or subsidiary associated with system-on-chip design or development including ASIC, EDA, semiconductor and systems. Corporate Members pay an annual fee based on the company's sales revenue from the previous year. This ranges from a low of $1,500 for a firm with prior year revenues of $5 million or less to a high of $20,000 for a firm with revenues over $150 million. Coalition members gain early access to planned and future releases as well as the ability to participate in projects. Currently there are over 60 member companies.

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-- Jack Horgan, Contributing Editor.

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