Jeff Brubaker of Synopsys Joins Si2 OpenAccess Change Team

Jeff Brubaker, infrastructure architect for Custom Compiler at Synopsys, has been elected to the Si2 OpenAccess Change Team. OpenAccess, the world’s most widely used, open-reference database for IC design, creates authentic interoperability between EDA companies and semiconductor designers and manufacturers.

Jeff started working on custom design tools at Avanti in 2000 and joined Synopsys in 2002. In 2004, he was on the Synopsys team which started the product that eventually became Custom Compiler–the Synopsys design environment for full-custom analog, custom digital, and mixed-signal IC design. He has worked with OpenAccess since 2005 and currently manages the Synopsys team responsible for OpenAccess-related development and maintenance.

Support for OpenAccess 22.50 Ends in June

Effective June 1, 2020, OpenAccess 22.50 (DM5) will no longer be supported and no further source code changes will be made.

What this means for OpenAccess Coalition Members

The present OA 22.50 releases will be available for the near future, although members should consider plans to migrate to the new OpenAccess 22.60 (DM6). The migration plan is well designed as your OA 22.50 database still works in 22.60.

Should you choose to use the new data model features of OA 22.60 your database will become a DM6 database and can only be read with 22.60.

Going forward, the focus will be on the new OA22.60 data model. This includes support for C++ 11. New oaPartitions classes enable performance and portability enhancements to your applications, including parallel execution with partial loading of data.

The 4G limits have been relaxed on polygon point data and certain types of application defined data. In most cases, databases written by OA 22.60 will remain DM5/OA 22.50 compatible. OA 22.60 will only write a DM6 database if:

  • more than 4G of oaAppProp or oaPointArray data is used or,
  • oaPartitions are created

For more information contact Marshall Tiner, director of Production Standards,

New Version of Si2 oaScript Expands IC Design Capabilities into the Cloud and AI

Design partitioning and multi-threaded parallel execution are key features of the updated scripting interface to OpenAccess, the industry’s most widely used IC design database. oaScript Version 4.0—developed by programming experts in the Silicon Integration Initiative oaScript Working Group—leverages the powerful enhancements available to OpenAccess in its most recent Data Model 6 upgrade.

“Our oaScript Working Group spent considerable time working through implementation details for optimal use in each supported scripting language”

“oaPartitions allows an application to rapidly load design instances, shapes, or vias from a given partition without loading an entire design. An application can define partitions by any criteria the developer prefers—by geography, by layer, or even alphabetically. In addition to creating partitions, applications now have access to all of the OpenAccess classes needed to work with partitions, including the partition array class,” Tiner explained.

Flexible partitions can enhance multi-threading capabilities, helping avoid collisions between design-segregated threads. For example, an application could explicitly assign a dedicated thread to each design layer, virtually guaranteeing no thread collisions. “This is very significant for applications utilizing parallel execution techniques,” Tiner added.

“Our oaScript Working Group spent considerable time working through implementation details for optimal use in each supported scripting language,” Tiner said. “As this group is made up of top EDA developers in the industry, each from unique and sometimes competing companies, their ability to collaborate is a stellar example of the value our members bring to Si2, and the strengths Si2 brings to its members.”

Rudy Albachten of Intel, chair of the oaScript Working Group, said, “With improved support for the latest versions of Python and Ruby, along with continued support for perl and tcl, oaScript 4.0 gives developers easy access to the full capabilities of the OpenAccess database. I am very proud of the hard work from the multi-company collaborative working group, and excited to see interest in using oaScript for diverse applications—including AI with Tensor Flow, using oaScript in the Anaconda platform, and usage in virtual machine environments. OaScript continues to enable designers and developers to quickly prototype custom tools. Enabling the new partitioning and multi-tasking capabilities of OpenAccess is an exciting new capability.”

Si2 Announces Winners of Inaugural Power of Partnerships Awards

Si2 Announces Winners of Inaugural Power of Partnerships Awards

Engineers from Intel, Samsung and Synopsys Honored

AUSTIN, Texas – Semiconductor design experts from Intel, Samsung and Synopsys are winners of the first annual Si2 Power of Partnerships award which recognizes the Si2 group or committee that has made the most significant contributions to the success of electronic design automation industry.

Volunteers of the Si2 OpenAccess oaScript Working Group were the winners of a competition between committees from each of three Si2 coalitions:  OpenAccess, Compact Model, and OpenStandards.  Key contributors from the oaScript Working Group will be recognized during the Si2 Annual Member Meeting Reception at the Design Automation Conference in Las Vegas, Monday, June 3, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Las Vegas Westgate Hotel, Ballroom F.

Honorees from the oaScript Working Group are:

  • Rudy Albachten, oaScript Working Group Chair; Co-Chair, OpenAccess Coalition; and Principal Member of the Technical Staff, Intel
  • James D. Masters, Engineering Manager, Intel
  • Cory Krug, Senior Staff Engineer, Samsung
  • Christian Delbaere, Senior Staff Research and Development Engineer, Synopsys

Marshall Tiner, Si2 director of Production Standards, said the oaScript Working Group plays a major role in expanding the functionality of OpenAccess, the world’s most widely used standard API and reference database for integrated circuit design. “This group has brought EDA development capabilities directly to the designers. EDA startups and design groups within end-user companies use it for rapid development of production design tools that strengthen OpenAccess’ relevance,” Tiner said.

“The use of scripting languages, such as Python, to directly access the OpenAccess database is a powerful feature. Turn-around time for creating and modifying scripted code is very fast, and almost all new university graduates are well-versed in one or more scripting languages. Beyond this, there are a number of additional packages available, such as the powerful Polygon Operators extension which relies on oaScript. Access to AI tools, such as TensorFlow, which is built on Python, is now accessible to our users,” Tiner added.

Each Si2 coalition nominated one team for the inaugural award, which spotlights the essential role that teams and individual member volunteers play in Si2’s continuing success:

Runners up in 2019 were:

Compact Model Coalition:  Gallium Nitride High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMT) Model Working Group, which released two standard models in 2018, culminating a multi-year effort by members and developers.

OpenStandards Coalition:  Unified Power Model Working Group developed several versions of a specification for system-level power modeling focused on IP blocks of arbitrary complexity.

James Masters of Intel to Lead Si2 Extensions Steering Group

AUSTIN, Texas — James Masters of Intel has been elected chairman of the Silicon Integration Initiative Extensions Steering Group, a team of industry volunteers that creates productivity enhancements to OpenAccess, the world’s most widely used standard API and reference database for integrated circuit design. Si2 is a leading research and development joint venture that provides standard interoperability solutions for integrated circuit design tools.

The ESG was launched in 2011 to increase the ease and pace of adding OpenAccess functionality, through extensions to the database, without affecting the consistency and stability of the core API standard and its associated reference implementation.

Marshall Tiner, Si2 director of Production Standards, said the ESG is responsible for reviewing and approving new features and capabilities for the API which are not part of the regular development process. “This has allowed for more flexible development in the OpenAccess environment to meet ever-changing market requirements,” Tiner said.

“James has played a major role in the ESG since its creation. His work with Si2 is an example of his decade-long advocacy for standards to streamline the design flow and maximize productivity and reuse,” Tiner added. “That includes guidance developing the ESG’s major subgroups, oaScript and oaxPop. oaScript provides scripting-language access into the database for Python, tcl, Ruby, and perl, allowing rapid development of user-created tools. oaxPop is the polygon operators extension that makes use of oaScript to provide a Python-based, rapid polygon analysis package for users.”

A 23-year Intel veteran, Masters currently manages an Intel team that enables custom layout capabilities of process nodes, including development of process design kit content. He works with EDA suppliers to improve the overall custom layout of the EDA ecosystem.

Si2 Names Dr. Rhett Davis Technical and Education Advisor

AUSTIN, Texas — Rhett Davis, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University, has been named Technical and Educational Advisor for Silicon Integration Initiative. Si2 is a leading research and development joint venture that provides standard interoperability solutions for integrated circuit design tools.

“This new position expands Davis’ reach and impact on the semiconductor industry,” said John Ellis, Si2 president and CEO.  “His experience with the Si2 OpenAccess database and in artificial intelligence and machine learning will be brought to bear on expanding the ecosystem surrounding our newly upgraded version of OA. The new OA release will greater support high-performance, partitioned, multithreaded AI EDA applications. Dr. Davis’ expertise will assist Si2 and its members in bridging the gap between visionary research and real-world, high-performance, AI applications.”

In this expanded advisory role Davis, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, will continue consulting for Si2 in the areas of system-level power modeling and compact modeling. He has been instrumental in prototyping early-stage implementation of the newly created Unified Power Model now being standardized by Si2 within IEEE.  In the Si2 Compact Model Coalition, Davis has helped the Open Model Interface Working Group rearchitect the TSMC-contributed interface, which allows users to modify model parameters during circuit simulation.

Davis will also support the five university members of the OpenAccess Coalition: North Carolina State, University of Florida, State University of New York, Stanford University and Einhoven University of Technology (Netherlands.)  University members have direct use of the OpenAccess database, which streamlines the path to developing design production tools.

Dr. Davis joined North Carolina State University in 2002 as an assistant professor and became professor in 2008. He received the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award in 2007 and the Si2 Distinguished Service Award in 2012 development of standards for electronic design automation, and the FreePDK open-source, predictive process design kit.

He has been an IEEE member since 1993 and became a senior member in 2011. He has published over 50 scholarly journal and conference articles

Dr. Davis’ research is centered on developing methodologies, CAD tools, and circuits for systems-on-chip in emerging technologies. His interests include 3DIC design and low-power and high-performance circuit design for digital signal-processing and embedded systems.

About Si2

Founded in 1988, Si2 is a leading research and development joint venture that provides standard interoperability solutions for integrated circuit design tools. Its activities include support of OpenAccess, the world’s most widely used standard API and reference database for integrated circuit design. All Si2 activities are carried out under the auspices of the The National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993, the fundamental law that defines R&D joint ventures and offers them a large measure of protection against federal antitrust laws

Si2 Releases New Version of OpenAccess Design Database

Silicon Integration Initiative, an electronic design automation software research and development joint venture, has released Data Model 6, the newest version of OpenAccess, the world’s most widely used standard API and reference database for integrated circuit design.

DM6 is the first major OpenAccess revision since 2014. The OpenAccess database provides EDA software tools with immediate design flow interoperability, saving time and money for semiconductor designers and manufacturers. Innovative DM6 features will improve performance in both new and legacy applications.

Marshall Tiner, Si2 director of Production Standards, said DM6 can help the industry keep pace with design requirements for emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning applications. “As with all OpenAccess releases, DM6 is a production-quality, proven, stable design platform. It’s uniquely positioned to meet the new complexity and performance challenges facing IC designers.”

A key feature of DM6 is oaPartitions, which enables OpenAccess applications to access critical components of enormous designs as easily as opening much smaller designs, saving compute resources and allowing developers to start doing meaningful work faster. “The real power of DM6 comes from the new partitioning capability. By subdividing a complex design, OpenAccess provides simultaneous access to multiple partitions from separate processes. Applications can use oaPartitions to exploit the full compute power available on the user’s platform,” Tiner said.

With properly written applications taking advantage of the new data model, oaPartitions can customize how and what data will be loaded into memory from the database. Multiple simultaneous, unique applications can each be assigned their own partition, opening up a wide range of opportunities to accelerate the design flow on ever-growing, complex designs.

“The industry is looking for enablers for utilizing vast cloud-based hardware with multiple processors. oaPartitions provides just that,” Tiner said.

John Ellis, Si2 president and CEO, underscored the benefits of OpenAccess. “Use of OpenAccess API, source code, and scripting capability accelerates EDA vendor’s time to market, and provides users with tool-to-tool interoperability for optimal design flows. Without OA compatibility, time-consuming translations in and out of a vendor or user internally developed software tools are usually required, wasting some of the productivity gains a tool provides. Any software tool used for real-world, physical design that is not utilizing OA is at a serious disadvantage. The high-performance, partitioning capability of OA DM6 underscores the competitive advantage and power of OpenAccess.”

The OpenAccess Coalition is the governing body that manages the OpenAccess infrastructure. Cadence  Design Systems, Inc. contributed the OpenAccess API to Si2 in 2002 and serves as the co-architect of the Si2 Change Team that manages modifications to the API and data model. Cadence also provides Si2 and its OpenAccess Coalition members with rights to use their production-quality, reference implementation of the latest API and data model. DM6 is now available to all coalition members.

For more information about OpenAccess and Data Model 6, contact Marshall Tiner at


About Si2

Founded in 1988, Si2 is a leading research and development joint venture that provides standard interoperability solutions for integrated circuit design tools. All Si2 activities are carried out under the auspices of the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993, the fundamental law that defines R&D joint ventures and offers them a large measure of protection against federal antitrust laws. Si2’s international membership includes semiconductor foundries, fabless manufacturers and EDA companies.


Take the OpenAccess Voice of Customer Survey

Help us find ways to improve Si2 OpenAccess, the world’s most widely used, open reference database for IC design, with a supporting standard API.  This three-minute survey provide insights members of the OpenAccess Coalition will use to bolster design-tool interoperability in the coming years.

What is Open about Si2 OpenAccess?

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By Marshall Tiner
Director of Production Standards

What is open about Si2 OpenAccess?

It seems these days everything is “open,” and the terms get confusing. Here is a short history of a few key areas to help clarify things. The label “open source” is credited to the free software movement of 1998. In February of that year, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded and the Open Source Definition adopted. OSI tried to trademark the term “open source,” in an effort to control its usage.

So, what does open source mean?

The term refers to a licensing methodology whereby the source code is made publicly available. Depending on the license terms, others may then download, modify, and publish their version (fork) back to the community. The Apache Software Foundation’s license has become a standard within the open source world.

Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) was born out of the 1988 CAD Framework Initiative (CFI), with a goal of enabling design tool interoperability. Cadence developed the OpenAccess API to standardize the design database, which resulted in interoperability between design databases from different tool suppliers. With the contribution of the OpenAccess API, the OpenAccess Coalition was formed within Si2. To the design tool user this meant a huge productivity increase when using tools from different suppliers.

Before the OpenAccess Coalition, designs, measurements, and results were passed back and forth between tools via time-consuming, error-prone, file transfers. OpenAccess in effect “opened” the design database so all coalition members could develop tools that shared the database. This removed the cost of the file transfer and allowed two tools to act upon the same data. While file transfer seems like a small thing, it can represent significant cost-of-engineering time on a large design. In addition, it enables the user to check-fix-check errors one at a time instead of several at a time, reducing long file transfer time. Ultimately it benefitted the entire industry enabling “best of “design flows, which are very common today.

So is OpenAccess open source software?

The answer is no. The difference is who the software is open to. OpenAccess is licensed much like open source software, though not open to the general public. The license requires Si2 membership which helps provide the resources required to keep the standard viable for use. There is a significant resource investment associated with OpenAccess. OpenAccess Coalition members have access to the source code and some of the derivative products (called Extensions) to use and even modify if necessary. Much like the Open Software Foundation works for the general public, Si2 and the OpenAccess Coalition provide a means of collaborative development for design product interaction/interoperability. The really great part is that the members realize a 1/N cost advantage developing the standard together rather than each doing it alone.

Is Si2 OpenAccess “open?”

Yes, OpenAccess is open to the OpenAccess Coalition membership, which consists of many electronic design automation tool development companies, and semiconductor companies, that’s pretty open.

Membership cost is based upon the company revenue to allow an easy entry point into the EDA business. A small company can quickly become compatible with the larger suppliers and “plug right into the design flow”. There is no better way to take a new EDA company into the market. Come join the OpenAccess Coalition and align the future with your company’s needs.

Prashant Varshney of Mentor Graphics Elected to Si2 OpenAccess Board

Prashant Varshney is Mentor Graphics’ newly elected representative on the Si2 OpenAccess Coalition board of directors and OpenAccess Change Team.

Prashant is the group director of Product Marketing at Mentor, where he oversees marketing efforts for the new design platform for developing mixed-signal IoT SoCs, senors, MEMS, silicon photonics and industrial IoT applications. Previously at Mentor he led product management, development and deployment for various ASIC design products in the physical design, formal verification and static timing analysis space, such as Olympus, Nitro, Optimus and FormalPro.

Prashant holds an MSEE from Stanford University.

The Si2 OpenAccess Coalition board oversees operational decisions for OpenAccess, the world’s most widely used, open reference database for IC design with a supporting standard API. The change team manages API modifications and database implementation.