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 Decoding Formal

Archive for July, 2013

IP Customers Beware! “Silicon Proven” IP May Not Be Fully Verified

Friday, July 26th, 2013

The verification of all configurations (reaching in millions) of an (silicon) IP is a challenge. I have experienced this problem first-hand both from the vendor side as an embedded SRAM (eSRAM) compiler designer, and from the customer side, as an architect of a wireless SoC using 3rd party IPs.

When I was eSRAM compiler designer, eSRAM used to support hundreds of thousands of configurations based on address widths, data widths, data masking, low power features, etc. In order to meet performance for different configurations, I sometimes designed different internal architectures of eSRAMs for different configurations. Due to the large number of configurations, verification is performed only on the configurations where the designer identifies the greatest need, for example when there is an architecture change either in the design or layout. Though this approach may appear to be comprehensive, I have seen silicon failures because the configurations picked for silicon had not been verified. The failures were due either to design modeling error or layout programming error. These failures could have been caught at the verification stage, if all configurations of eSRAMs were verified. However using simulation as the sole verification technology, verifying all configurations was simply not possible.

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