OCP: The Journey Continues

Accellera Systems Initiative has released the tutorial “OCP: The Journey Continues” from the 2014 Design and Verification Conference. Now available online, the five-part tutorial presents the past, present and future of the Open Core Protocol IP interface socket standard, which was transferred to Accellera in 2013. The tutorial provides a basic introduction and then discusses a variety of topics crucial to the use of OCP in SoC designs: verification IP support, TLM 2.0 SystemC support and IP-XACT support. Presenters include Herve Alexanian of Sonics, Steve McMaster of Synopsys, Prashant Karandikar of Texas Instruments and me.

I am quite pleased to see this tutorial made freely available to design and verification engineers around the world. As the original author of the specification that became OCP, and as the CTO of Sonics, the company that is donating the core technology, it is exciting to see the continued adoption of the standard and the vision for plug and play reuse unfold.

Sonics and OCP grew up together. Since early 1997, Sonics has been a semiconductor IP supplier focused on selling on-chip networks for SoC applications. Sonics’ products help customers integrate IP from many sources (including customers!) so we’ve always had a strong focus on IP core interfaces. This leads us directly to the story of OCP, which has its roots in the Virtual Socket Interface Alliance (VSIA). VSIA was the first standards organization to look at IP reuse and integration. They discovered that an IP interface socket was needed to meet the customization and performance challenge demanded by complex ICs. They also concluded the interface depended on two technical measures: area efficiency for simple/low-performance virtual components and performance capability for complex/high performance virtual components.

An early member of VSIA, Sonics stepped up to the challenge to donate the Sonics Module Interface, a first-of-its-kind virtual component interface specifically designed to isolate virtual components from logical and physical bus requirements. Highly configurable, the interface specified both basic and advanced functionality, provided a structure for user-defined enhancements, and allowed “black box” verification and testing. The interface was symmetric, allowing components to directly connect without the need for an on-chip bus. In essence, it defined a small core of mandatory signals, a wide range of optional signals, a structure method for extension, and logical and electrical protocols.

From there things really took off. In 1999, the Sonics module was renamed “Open Core Protocol.” A standards organization was formed to continue the technical work, and in 2001 OCP-IP was announced. With members such as MIPS, Nokia, Sonics, TI and UMC, global support reached over 170 members. OCP-IP continued to thrive and develop OCP 2.0 specification, which added significant improvements to the burst model.

Here is a slide from the early days, which encapsulates the work:

Important OCP Facts

In 2013, Accellera acquired the assets of OCP-IP. A natural evolution, OCP now joins with standards such as SystemC and IP-XACT to further enhance the protocol. Accellera continues to work on the standard to support new languages and methodologies to enable complete, productive verification of internal and commercial IP. There are ample resources available including an interactive forum, tutorials, whitepapers and presentations via the OCP community.

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