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Anand Shirahatti
Anand Shirahatti
Anand Shirahatti is the CTO of Arrow Devices. He has been instrumental in making the company a leading provider of Verification, Validation and Debug Solutions. He has over 15 years of experience in design and verification. Most recently, he was a Senior Design Engineer at Nvidia. Arrow Devices … More »

Does An Externally Bought IP need Re-Verification?

October 27th, 2014 by Anand Shirahatti

Verification is never ending process! You can never be sure that you have verified everything. The aim of verification is risk reduction to the level of practical perfection.

The increase in chip complexity coupled with pressure to shorten time to market, are pushing chip design companies towards adoption of third party IPs. Let us consider you have weighed in all pros and cons of IP outsourcing and decided have to go for a third party IP for your next project. Then the question is – Does the externally bought IP need re-verification?

Let us answer this question by first examining the reasons that third party vendors may give you to persuade you not to go for re-verification:

Third Party Vendors’ arguments against re-verification

Argument 1: “The IP is FPGA proven”

Flaw: FPGA proven IP may be a limited version of the IP you require. Or worse, it could be a modified version of the IP, to fit into the constraints of the FPGA. Now this is serious concern. Only basic features might be operational at lower clock speeds.

Argument 2: “The IP is Silicon proven”

Flaw: Even if some IP vendors do create the silicon, it may not have seen much real world application. It might be operational at-speed with the full IP but in an incubated environment. This incubated environment might be creating very limited cases – a cause to worry about.

Argument 3: “The IP is Silicon proven and in production”

Flaw: Lets say that this IP is silicon proven and is already being used in the production application. Still you might want to check if the nature of application is similar to the one where you plan to use the IP. Your application can lead to different scenarios that the IP is not exposed to. These newer scenarios need additional verification.

Argument 4: “The IP needs very little customization”

Flaw: Lets say you found that elusive IP that is production silicon proven at multiple applications similar to yours. But you may need to customize it slightly to fit your requirements. This too will increase your risk. The change could be as simple as RAM types used in the FIFOs of the design. But still, you are opening your chip to new potential bugs.

But doesn’t re-verification add to development time?

You might say that the reason for going for an external IP is to shorten the product cycle. Therefore, if you need to re-verify the IP again it will be counter-productive.  This indeed could be true if you buy a half baked verification solution. However, it won’t be true if you get a solution that you can just plug-n-play  – one that does not require much effort to integrate and execute. Where can you find such a solution? You can start here with us! Our Verification IP solutions are not just BFMs, but COMPLETE verification solutions.  Right from test plan, coverage plan and assertion plans to full test suites containing both compliance and constrained random. They also come bundled with the coverage and scoreboard. Within a week you will be able to integrate your IP with the solution – and start running full test suites and analyzing coverage.  Little wonder then, that our Verification IP Solutions have been adopted time and again by top 20 semiconductor companies.

Is re-verification worth all the trouble? How much risk are you really avoiding?

  • Your brand is on the line: Ultimately your customers will look at the product with your brand name on it and not with the IP vendor’s. So you need to do whatever it takes to ensure it’s quality.
  • Vendors’ primary focus in not IP verification: The IP vendor is in the business of selling the IPs and verification might not be their primary focus. Hence the test bench and test suites bundled may not be compliant with the latest verification standards. If you do plan to maintain and build it further it might makes sense to have the best test bench that can scale and last longer.
  • Need to meet your own quality standards: Re-verifying the IP will give you the confidence you need to meet your quality standards. It will enable you to exercise the DUT sufficiently in the areas of your interest.
  • Need to future proof your product: Re-verifying will ensure that in future if there are any issues found, you will have environment to recreate and regress.

So whats the verdict?

If and only if you are buying an IP that is production silicon proven at multiple applications similar to yours and you are integrating it as it is without any customization – then you may not need re-verification.  This however, is an ideal scenario and will most likely not happen in reality.

Hence it makes sense to have IP re-verified – no matter what your situation.

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