EDA standards are a crucial enabler of today's complex electronic design flows - and it takes a lot of hard work to create them. Few know this better than Stan Krolikoski, who got involved with VHDL standardization in the early 1980s and has taken a leadership role in standards development ever since. This week (Dec. 2, 2012) the IEEE recognized those efforts by awarding the annual Ron Waxman DASC (Design Automation Standards Committee) Meritorious Service Award to Krolikoski, who today is a distinguished engineer at Cadence.
Stan Krolikoski accepts Ron Waxman IEEE DASC award. Left to right: Dennis Brophy (Mentor Graphics), Ron Waxman, Stan Krolikoski, Yatin Trivedi (Synopsys)
Although I have interviewed Krolikoski many times, as a former EE Times editor and more recently Cadence blogger, I did not realize until now the extent to which he has shaped EDA standards efforts. He was nominated for the Waxman award by Dennis Brophy, director of strategic business development at Mentor Graphics and past president of the Accellera Systems Initiative, with endorsements from Karen Bartleson (Synopsys) and Mike McNamara (formerly Cadence). Why? "Stan is probably the most trusted EDA standards practitioner and leader," Brophy said. "He has been kind of a father and steward of EDA standards, and his voice of reason has been constant."
Krolikoski's stature in the standards community extends beyond the IEEE and Accellera. Steve Schulz, president of the Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2), recalled working with him at VHDL International in the 1980s. "I could tell immediately that Stan was a very sharp individual who got it," Schulz said. "He always understood what he was trying to achieve, and he didn't get lost in details. He was a good leader of people who could talk rationally about technology and make sense."
"I don't really need an award to validate the years I have put in on leading and fostering EDA standardization -- the effect that such standardization has had on the global electronics industry is enough validation," Krolikoski said. "However, I am very honored that my efforts have been recognized by my peers in the IEEE. Knowing that others with whom I labored side-by-side in the ‘standards trenches' place high value on my work makes me both humble and proud."
Leading the DASC
The annual Ron Waxman award recognizes commendable accomplishments by DASC members. Krolikoski is currently chair of the DASC, which oversees all IEEE EDA standards activities except for test. As chair, he works with the various IEEE group chairs to provide support and solve problems, and also helps move IEEE standards forward to the International Engineering Consortium (IEC). Said Brophy: "He has taken over the reins of the DASC and has expanded it, pulling in activities from all corners of the world."
But there's more, much more to Krolikoski's standards work. Here are some examples:
- As a programmer at the Honeywell Computer Science Center, was asked to attend a single meeting about the emerging VHDL standard in the early 1980's. He's been working with EDA standards ever since.
- Krolikoski has been an officer in at least one standards organization continuously since 1986 (today he's secretary of the Accellera Systems Initiative).
- Worked with the IEEE 1076 VHDL working group, and later became chair of the VHDL Analysis and Standardization Group (VASG) and led the effort to revise the standard.
- Actively worked to promote VHDL, delivering tutorials and lectures. Served as board member and later president of VHDL International, and also served as board member of Open Verilog International (OVI).
- Was a founder of Accellera, which resulted from the merger of VI and OVI. In later years, helped bring the SPIRIT Consortium and Open SystemC Initiative (OSCI) into what is now the Accellera Systems Initiative.
- Serves as chair of the IEEE 1666 SystemC working group, which issued a new revision of SystemC late last year.
Readers who were around the EDA industry in the late 1980's will remember the "language wars" between VHDL and Verilog. Krolikoski experienced that first-hand, and given his involvement in both VI and OVI, came to understand that it didn't have to be an either-or situation. Indeed, he became a "devotee" of Verilog as he learned more about it. "As you get towards gates and silicon, Verilog had major advantages," he said. "It didn't have advantages going up in the design flow, but SystemVerilog basically took the best of VHDL and added it to Verilog and came up with one of the leading languages."
A Successful Endeavor
What kept Krolikoski involved in EDA standardization all these years? "For one thing, because it's been so successful," he said. Before standards, he noted, nothing was interoperable and everybody had to have a complete design flow (including workstations, in the case of several early EDA vendors). "As the electronics industry has grown, EDA standards that support the electronics industry have grown, and I've tried to keep my hand in."
Krolikoski's work goes far beyond his official positions. Recently at Accellera, he has been delving into IP protection issues, and has written a document that's on track to become the new Accellera Systems Initiative IP rights policy. It includes traditional IEEE copyright and patent policy procedures, and adds new policies for dealing with things like reference implementations, which Accellera develops but the IEEE does not.
So what's his "recipe" for success in EDA standards? In a word, "patience." It's hard enough to do engineering in a single company with teams that are spread across geographies, he noted. Standards work, he noted, "is fundamentally a multi-geography, multi-company, distributed engineering job. And it's done by volunteers, which makes it even harder."
The bottom line: "You have to have patience. If you think things can be rushed through, they're never going to be done." Looking over the past 30 years, it seems that Krolikoski's patience has accomplished a great deal for the electronics industry.