Our Arm Research colleagues strive to help advance future technology across the ecosystem. John Biggs, one of Arm’s founders and a Distinguished Engineer, has been awarded the Ron Waxman Award by the Design Automation Standards Committee (DASC). This recognizes his outstanding leadership and contribution to the development and standardization of IEEE Std 1801 (UPF), and contribution to the policy and procedures of DASC Working Groups.
The DASC, founded in 1987, is one of the oldest sponsor groups in the IEEE-SA and sponsors standards in the Electronic Design Automation area, such as SystemC, SysteVerilog, VHDL, SDF, IP-EXACT, UVM, PSL and of course, UPF. In celebration of this significant accomplishment, we spoke to John about his involvement, and the importance of Standards work in the technological industry.
“Managing the power dissipation of complex SoCs has been a prime design consideration for some years now. It is well understood that reducing both the peak and average power consumption will reduce the manufacturing and packaging costs, as well as improve the reliability and battery life. However, the design languages used to simulate, implement, and verify these complex SoCs predate this need to manage power dissipation, and assume simple uniform global power network.
IEEE1801(UPF) was developed as an industry standard way to specify the power management intent of a design throughout every step of the design process. From simulation and logic synthesis, through to physical implementation and verification. The UPF standard provides a semantic consistency which enables portability of this power management intent, and so the ability to compare and contrast various implementation strategies across a number of compliant EDA tools and libraries.”
“Standards are very important to Arm - we would find it quite hard to do business without them! However, in the case of P1801 and with Arm's position of neutrality in the industry, it made us the ideal choice to lead the work group.
By strange coincidence this was the Dilbert on the day that I become Chair of the work group - it has always amused me.”
“When I first joined the work group back in 2006, it was clear to me that UPF had some limitations for IP providers, and so I started to champion the concept of "Successive Refinement", which would essentially allow for the separation of "what" from "how" in the specification of power intent. I naively thought it would only require a few small changes, but as the work group dug in to the details, it soon became clear that it would have a far and reaching impact of the structure of the language. Somehow, I managed to convince the work group of the value of this "Successive Refinement" concept, and it got implemented and published in the next release of the standard.
Successive refinement enables an IP provider (such as Arm) to express the low-power constraints inherent in an IP block without predicating a particular configuration. It also enables the licensee to configure the IP block within those constraints for a particular application, again, without predicating any particular technology-specific implementation. This application is specific, but technology-independent IP blocks can then be considered a "golden reference", against which all subsequent technology-specific implementations can be verified. In this way the "verification equity" invested in proving the integrity of the golden reference is preserved, need not be repeated when the implementation detailed changed.”
“Power management is a system-wide problem that should be addressed at all levels. From the software policies that manage the entry and exit from the various power modes, through to the high- level system architecture and its implementation, right down to the detailed transistor level circuit design and of course, the choice of the underlying silicon process.
In the last release of the Standard, we extended the language to have better support for system level power modelling and estimation. However, going forward we see the challenges in integrating complex SoCs that contain analog IP. We are actively working on extending the language to have better support for "digital on top" analog mixed signal implementation and verification ready for the next release."
"It is a great honor, and I am very flattered to be recognized in this way - especially when I look back at the previous recipients. It came as quite a surprise to me when I was nominated, but not as much as when I learned that I was to receive this award.
It has been a great pleasure and rare privilege to get to know and work closely with so many highly skilled, knowledgeable people from such a broad cross section of our industry."
Learn more about the Ron Waxman Award