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Issue 3, 2011

Executive Spotlight
Industry Initiatives: Enabling Virtual Prototyping Model Collaboration Through TLMCentral

Synopsys Insight talked to John Koeter, Synopsys' vice president of marketing for the Solutions Group, to get executive insight into one of the company's latest industry initiatives: TLMCentral.

Q: What exactly is TLMCentral?
TLMCentral, or www.TLMCentral.com, is an open, web-based portal that offers a unique aggregation point for information on available transaction-level models (TLMs) across the industry as well as direct access to free models. It also offers model developers, architects and software developers across the electronics supply chain a place to collaborate and share best practices for virtual prototyping, architecture design and verification.

Q: What industry trends led to the creation of TLMCentral?
At Synopsys we are seeing two macro trends that drive our semiconductor customers: growth in the amount of IP reuse to control the cost of SoC development, and the increasing amount of software that design teams have to deliver to their customers along with the silicon. The second trend is causing executives who are looking for big efficiency improvements in software development to shift their thinking.

Recruiting more software engineers helps with software development, but it doesn't address the mounting challenge of integrating software and hardware. We have seen a huge increase in demand for FPGA-based prototyping, which is an established method of addressing software-hardware integration and validation. But we also see a clear trend towards virtual prototyping, which lets teams start developing software early and accelerate the overall project schedule, reducing risk and increasing ROI.

TLMCentral represents the collaboration of a number of leading IP providers and system-level tool vendors who recognize that TLMs and the virtual prototypes they enable can dramatically improve the software design productivity of their customers.

Q: How do these trends relate to TLMCentral?
Virtual prototypes – software models of complete systems – let design teams debug and analyze software integration before RTL is available, so they can start developing software much earlier than other methods, like FPGA-based prototyping. But to use virtual prototypes, customers need to quickly assemble them at the early stage of their design development. TLMs are abstract models and the building blocks of virtual prototypes.

Well-written models simulate faster and get the best out of the analysis and debug capabilities within the virtual prototyping tools. When we look at the adoption of virtual prototyping among our customers, we see that the value dramatically increases when most of the IP blocks for the SoC already exist as TLMs and customers have only to create models for their unique, custom blocks to arrive at a working virtual prototype. This is the motivation for TLMCentral: get as many TLM models as possible out to the industry as quickly as possible so that more designers can tap into the benefits of virtual prototyping.

Q: Where do you see the benefit of TLMCentral for the industry?
The companies deploying virtual prototyping will have a single access point for all critical information around system-level modelling. Model providers such as IP companies, service providers, semiconductor vendors and universities will benefit from having a central repository to promote their IP and make their TLM models available.

Q: How does TLMCentral compare to the Open SystemC Initiative (OSCI)?
We see TLMCentral as the next step in realizing the vision of OSCI that Synopsys, CoWare and others launched in 1999. SystemC as a language has changed the design methodology for hardware/software co-development. Over the course of a decade, the greatest benefit that emerged from this vision was the SystemC TLM-2.0 standard for describing the interface of IP models. System-level models of IP that adhere to this standard are now available on TLMCentral and supported by a broad and growing ecosystem.

Q: Are there costs associated with using TLMCentral?
No, access is free of charge for all model contributors and users.

Q: How open is TLMCentral?
TLMCentral is open to everyone including model developers, model users, system-level design experts, etc., from commercial, research and academic entities. This includes IP or EDA vendors who may compete with Synopsys and the other initial model contributors such as ARM and Tensilica. We believe model availability is a key issue for the industry and want to encourage full ecosystem collaboration.

Q: Beyond model search capabilities, what does TLMCentral offer product developers?
Collaboration is becoming increasingly important in enabling engineering communities to adopt and benefit from new methodologies and technologies. For example, look at how the software community benefits from androidcentral.com. TLMCentral offers model developers, architects and software developers across the supply chain an infrastructure to collaborate on model availability and instantly benefit from virtual prototyping to accelerate software development schedules by up to 9 months. Furthermore, the web portal will bring together the transaction-level modelling community with forums, industry news, and blogs for both model contributors and users.

Q: Can you share some of the comments you've received from current TLMCentral participants?
The feedback to date has been very positive. Because the virtual prototyping industry is relatively new and model availability is key to rapid assembly of prototypes, people immediately understand the value of the portal, and feel the time is right for an infrastructure like TLMCentral.

Q: What are you most excited about the launch of TLMCentral?
Software development for complex multicore designs is a huge challenge. Virtual prototyping is a big opportunity and modelling is the enabling technology. I am excited about the impact that TLMCentral can have by helping designers find the models they need to build their virtual prototypes efficiently, and then realize the significant productivity boost over traditional software development methods.


John Koeter, Vice President of Marketing, Solutions Group
 
Figure 1. Synopsys System-to-Silicon (S2S) Verification SolutionJohn Koeter joined Synopsys in 1998 and is currently vice president of marketing for the Solutions Group. In that capacity, he is responsible for the marketing of Synopsys' DesignWare® intellectual property (IP), Professional Services and System-Level Design products. Before coming to Synopsys, Mr. Koeter held marketing, engineering, and corporate application engineering positions with Texas Instruments and Advanced Micro Devices. Mr. Koeter holds a BSEE degree from Cornell University.

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