On the heels of EE Times editor Brian Bailey naming their article “Understanding clock domain issues” the number one article on EDA Designline, we checked in with authors Saurabh Verma and Ashima Dabare on what they see as developments and new challenges since they wrote their 2007 article. Here’s what they said.
Ed: It appears that your article got twice the number of views as the number two article. Congratulations on the EE Times recognition!
Obviously, CDC was an important design issue in 2007 and it certainly is today. What would you say to designers today?
Ashima: CDC design is evolving and so are the synchronization techniques and verification tools. Since we have written this article we have witnessed new challenges posed to CDC verification tools.
One that comes to mind is evolving synchronization styles. In addition to clever variations of synchronization techniques introduced by designers trying to meet their design objective or schedule, new architectures such as those required for a network on a chip (NoC) have been introduced which in turn require verification tools to re-invent themselves.
Recently CDC tools have introduced generic synchronization verification techniques that do not rely on the structure of the synchronizer and analyze clock domain crossings at the protocol level allowing them to better recognize synchronizers, reduce “noise” and improve root cause analysis.
Saurabh: Also, global chip design dictates blocks and IPs to be designed in various geographical locations. The person doing CDC verification is rarely the designer. CDC verification tools are now challenged with providing root-cause analysis of CDC problems to people who have little knowledge of the block.
I also see as a fact that design size is fast growing and so are the number of clocks and clock domains. Combined with the move toward global chip development, flat CDC verification of large SoCs would be a painful exercise where bugs can easily slip through.
The divide and conquer approach seems to be the best possible approach. To begin with, the lower level blocks should be analyzed and CDC issues, if any, should be fixed at the block level itself. Once all the individual blocks are CDC clean, their abstract models can be plugged in and the complete design can be analyzed for CDC issues at the interconnect level.
Ed: So how would you sum up what CDC design needs in 2012?
Ashima: With the ever increasing complexity of design styles, robust CDC verification is indispensable to enable successful chips in the first silicon attempt!
Note: as near as we can tell, Atrenta is the only company to place two articles in Bailey’s top ten. Narayana Koduri’s Power awareness in RTL design analysis came in as ninth most read. We’ll catch up with him next week, so stay tuned.
Note: Lee PR does work for Atrenta