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Latest UPF 3.0 boasts improvements to address complex SoCs

02 Feb 2016  | Lawrence Neukom

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Officially known as IEEE Standard 1801-2015, the Unified Power Format (UPF) 3.0 was approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in December last year and will be ready for distribution early this year. Like its predecessors, the standard will be available for free through a grant from Accellera, the electronic design automation (EDA) and semiconductor industry's standards organisation.

It's been almost nine years since UPF 1.0 was introduced in 2007. Since then, three major UPF revisions have been published. Unfortunately, EDA companies have been lagging with their UPF support. This lack of feature support affects how UPF is being written, preventing designers from using the latest features.

The latest 3.0 standard offers additional enhancements to address and describe power intent of complex SoCs. Features include enhanced power state and transitions support, system-level power support, a new information model and programming interface, as well as a bottom-up flow support. Eleven additional UPF commands were introduced in this version.

A brief history of UPF

UPF 1.0

In 2007, Accellera approved the 1.0 draft of UPF, and this standard was donated to the IEEE that year. UPF is a Tcl extension, and version 1.0 is comprised of 32 commands. UPF provides IC designers with an hardware design language (HDL)-independent way of annotating a design with power intent. More specifically, low-power requirements and constraints can be specified early in the very large scale integration (VLSI) design process, such as at the register transfer level (RTL), allowing for electronic systems to be designed with power as a key consideration.

UPF is used to partition a design into power domains, where each power domain is powered by a supply network of supply ports, power switches and supply nets. Various strategies can be applied to power domains to control logic values when the domains are being switched off and on. Isolation strategies are used to ensure undefined outputs from powered-down design elements do not drain power from those design elements that are not powered down. They also ensure a specific logic value is driven from the power domain's outputs. Retention strategies specify which objects in a domain need to be retained while powered down. Level shifter strategies translate signal values from an input voltage swing to a different output voltage swing.

UPF 2.0

IEEE Standard 1801-2009, also known as UPF 2.0, was published in 2009 with 57 new commands. This revision included general refinements of previously existing commands. Supply sets, the concept of successive refinement, the command find_objects, used to query HDL design data, and a substantial offering of query commands were introduced as well.

Adding the new commands to the remaining active UPF 1.0 commands, UPF 2.0 consists of 88 commands: 49 Power Intent and 39 Query commands.

UPF 2.1 and 2.2

In 2013, IEEE Standard 1801-2013, or UPF 2.1, was published with 11 new UPF commands. This revision included further refinements of previously existing commands, the introduction of power models and a repeater strategy, along with a handful of power management cell definition commands.

Adding the new commands to the remaining active UPF 2.0 commands, UPF 2.1 consists of 86 commands: 46 Power Intent, 6 Power Management, and 34 Query commands.

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