Shachi Nandan Kakkar
Engineer in making
The World of Drama and the Verification Engineer – A High Schooler’s Perspective
June 28th, 2012 by Shachi Nandan Kakkar
Before I step on stage for a performance, I look at the crowd and say, “Lord, please don’t let me screw this up.” But it is the effort before this performance that really leads to this moment. First we have a casting process, where we try to find the best actor to play the lead, then the understudy, then the extras and technical team etc. This is usually done by a director, someone who has excelled at acting before, and develops the entire vision. Then we memorize our lines, this is the most mind-numbing and difficult part, so to prevent mental break downs, we divide the script up into smaller parts. We start with a few simple lines, then progressively add more lines and difficulty of memorization. Then we block the entire play, see what goes where, and perform it. Next, we have dress rehearsals, we get comfortable performing in our costumes and make sure things go off without a hitch. Now after all of this, we present it to the audience and hope that we don’t get pelted with tomatoes. After we perform, we wait for the audience to react, if they respond with cheers, we repeat the act the same way the next night with minor adjustments, if we are hurt and killed with articles of food, we then see what to improve and make changes for the next show.
The world of drama transcends to the world of hardware verification engineering more than we realize. In fact the entire process of putting on a successful play is similar to the work of a successful verification team. First, one must choose the right ‘cast,’ the best verification engineers who show promise. We then find our ‘leads’ or managers who shall take leadership of the daunting and challenging project of verifying a digital design. This is all lead by a ‘director,’ who in most cases is a senior executive of the company who champions the vision of meticulous verification to ensure first fully functional silicon. Then starts the process of verification of the hardware design, we first give it easy tests to make sure that the design is competent and can handle mild stress. These basic tests then evolve into progressively more complex tests that play out the actual scenarios that the design will confront, once it becomes an actual product on silicon. We now start ‘blocking’ the release, make sure everything is going the way it is meant to, see if the ‘lighting works’ etc. by simulating complex transactions. Now, as we enter the final stretch coming to the release, we give it harder functions to devour, make sure it can do almost anything that a customer wants it to do, and run coverage analysis to ensure that all aspects of the design have been verified in real life like situations. Then, its ‘curtain call,’ the hardware is now live, and released to the consumer. Waiting for customer feedback, we see what needs to be improved in the next release, no matter how big or small these changes may be.
Using this method, we can relate engineering to many other activities such as sports, drama, other types of fun team activities etc. This could be a great way to better the process of design verification, and give a simplified and abridged version to new engineers. By doing this, we will be relating their complex task to what is simpler and more fun for them to understand, and once they get a good grasp of the basic verification process, they can be better prepared for the journey they are about to embark on.
Tags: Drama, Verification