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 Decoding Formal

Posts Tagged ‘formal verification’

Another Reason to Stay an Extra Day in Austin

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

If you are attending the Design Automation Conference (DAC) in Austin, Texas, June 5-9, and need a good reason to stay an extra day, look no further. Oski Technology is offering a one-day primer on advanced formal verification techniques at the DAC Decoding Formal one-day training, “Achieving Formal Sign-off”, on Thursday, June 9, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel, Austin. 

Part 2: Formal Verification Program Leader: The Critical Role of Planning and Measurement

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

As in any engineering endeavor, formal verification involves engaging individuals in many different roles, often including formal managers and, given the technically deep and complex nature of FV, nearly always one or more formal experts. The manager of the formal verification effort on a project may have formal as his or her primary or sole responsibility, or may manage multiple aspects of verification (e.g. both simulation and FV). However, even a full-time formal verification manager may or may not drive the overall formal program in their company or organization.

In part one of this discussion, I talked about the emerging role of the Formal Verification (FV) Program Leader, an individual who enables and drives the formal process by navigating organizational dynamics, understanding designs and their verification complexities and schedules, developing and presenting ROI trade-offs, etc.; all to help achieve project goals. I listed six aspects of this role that the FV Program Leader must master in order to effectively lead the adoption and deployment of formal verification: Organization, Training and Upskilling, Test Planning, Progress Metrics, Sign-off Process, and Post Mortem Analysis.

Recap of the 2016 Oski Formal Puzzler – “Chessboard Challenge” (+ Video)

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

In December 2015, Oski challenged formal users to build the fastest testbench to solve our Oski Formal Puzzler – the Chessboard ChallengeBerkeley Math Circle Monthly Contest 8, 2011, proposed and designed by Evan O’Dorney, three-time Putnam Fellow.  Jesse Bingham from Intel submitted the winning entry, as was announced during a presentation at the recent meeting of the Decoding Formal Club in Santa Clara, CA on February 29, 2016. This was an opportunity to promote the adoption of formal verification across the semiconductor industry, and share formal techniques by showing how they might be used to solve a fun formal puzzle. (more…)

The Formal Verification Program Leader: An Emerging Role in Verification

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Formal verification of hardware designs has been around for more than 25 years. Commercial tools, for example from AT&T Bell Labs and IBM, started appearing in the 1990s. It’s only recently that formal verification has been adopted into design and verification flows, due to a number of reasons. It’s harder to learn than simulation or emulation because of its complexity, and it takes time for a verification engineer to become proficient in using it. Formal verification experts typically learn 100s of different techniques over the course of their careers.

Now that we are in the era of formal verification, an important new role is emerging –– the Formal Verification Program Leader (FV Program Leader). (more…)

Formal 2025: It’s Back to the Future!

Friday, November 13th, 2015

The recent Decoding Formal Club meeting hosted by Oski Technology on October 21, 2015 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View celebrated the club’s 2nd anniversary with a “back to the future” twist.

While many of the predictions in the movie “Back to Future Part II” did not come true on October 21, 2015, the day of “the future” to which Marty McFly and Doc Brown time travel in a flying silver DeLorean sports car, that didn’t deter us from inviting attendees from Apple, ARM, Arteris, Broadcom, Ericsson, Google, Imagination, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Palo Alto Networks, Qualcomm and others to make some timely predictions for formal verification in 2025. The group was comprised of formal experts with years of experience, as well as engineers who are new to formal verification, so the predictions for 2025 were daring, but quite possible.


Oski on the Bay in San Francisco

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

EDA’s verification market segment is not the only place where something’s named for the Cal (University of California, Berkeley) mascot Oski. A Blue and Gold Fleet boat named Oski sails out of Pier 39 in San Francisco and takes visitors around the Bay and Alcatraz.

When I saw the Oski pulling away from the pier, I couldn’t help but draw an analogy between Oski Technology’s mission and the choppy waters the boat was heading into on that sunny day. Sunny days and choppy waters are something verification engineers can face on a daily basis. Verification tasks are so challenging in today’s for system-on-chip (SoC) designs that verification alone takes more than 60% of the project cycle. What’s more, simulation alone for SoC designs will leave large holes for bugs to sneak through, all the way to silicon. The challenge of verification actually is more daunting than the choppy waters of San Francisco Bay.

Decoding Formal @ DAC – Join Oski for Four Days of Formal Fun

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Oski Decoding Formal Events are usually hosted at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and have attracted lots of formal enthusiasts in the bay area. Deep formal talks from Oski, lectures given by formal experts from different companies, good networking, cool gifts and museum tours have become the signature of these events that formal engineers look forward to, every quarter.

To reach out to formal enthusiasts around the world and create a bigger event than usual, the 2015 Q2 Decoding Formal event will be hosted at DAC. Our theme is proving completeness of End-to-End Formal for Sign-off.


The Impact of Great Teachers

Friday, May 1st, 2015

My daughter has been learning violin for the last 5 years with a wonderful Suzuki teacher. She emphasizes proper posture, beautiful tone and a good work ethic. This has built a solid foundation for my daughter to venture into learning other instruments. Last fall my daughter started playing flute for her school band, and viola at Young String Ensemble, the youngest division of Portland Youth Philharmonic, founded in 1929 as the first youth orchestra in the United States.

To help her prepare for the upcoming audition for the more advanced Portland Youth Conservatory Orchestra, we decided she would take some viola lessons with the Oregon Symphony Principal Violist. We were totally blown away after just one lesson.


“Shift Left” with Formal Technology

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

“Shift Left” has become a hot phrase after Aart’s keynote speech at DVCon2015 where he talked about how shifting left in schedule resulted from 10x productivity gain in design, IP, verification and software can spur on 100x opportunities in applications across all fields. He suggested many of these technological advances have the potential of changing what mankind is all about.

Static and formal techniques were mentioned as one of the mechanisms that increase productivity and contribute to shift left in the verification schedule. There are several reasons why formal technology is a key driver for the left shift.


Making the Case to Executives for Formal Verification

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Last year, after my presentation to a customer in Asia, the verification manager said, “You should give this talk to our senior executives, so they understand the benefits of formal.”

It was said in a lighthearted manner, but in reality it rang true. Design and verification engineers and their managers understand the value of formal.  However in order to request funding to promote formal adoption, they still need to make a case to senior executives as to the value of formal. They need compelling arguments, speaking at a strategic level as to why it is critically important and urgent for the company to adopt formal. The list of concerns for senior executives, is long:

  1. Are we staying ahead of competition?
  2. Do our customers have any issues with our products?
  3. Can we deliver our products on schedule and with profit margin?

Funding will become easier, if they understand how formal can address their primary concerns.

To stay ahead of competition not only requires innovative ideas, but also a sharpened toolkit. Semiconductor companies large and small are actively investing in formal adoption so that they have the best verification flow with the most advanced tools and methodologies. There aren’t many formal experts who can do End-to-End formal in the industry. Many companies are paying top dollar to attract formal verification engineers or outsource formal verification tasks for critical projects to the Oski Technology. So if your company doesn’t use formal verification, then this is an easy case to make, in order to catch up with competition.

A post-silicon bug is a nightmare to senior executives. It signifies poor quality, delayed schedule and wasted money. No matter how complex the bug might be at the system level, it resides in one of the design blocks and could have been caught earlier. Using End-to-End formal to achieve sign-off is a sure way to catch corner case bugs early in the flow so as to minimize, or even avoid, post-silicon bugs. So if senior executives are concerned about customer issues with products, the best solution is to incorporate formal in the early stage, for sign-off.

Time is money. Delayed project schedule means extra engineering time and lost potential market opportunity. Formal can reduce project schedule as in the Oski Cisco case study, published at DAC 2011. At the very least with formal, once a property is proven, verification is done. Unlike simulation where reaching the last 20% of coverage closure could take 80% of the time, so there is never a real sense of being complete as it is impossible to simulate all input vectors.

So if adding formal to the flow helps you keep up or stay ahead of competition, avoid post silicon bugs and keep your project schedule in check, it has a big impact for the company.  This should make a strong case to senior execs that formal is something they should hear about – and sponsor – today.

Rob Kurshan, early pioneer and expert in formal verification, speculates here on the future of formal verification in a video interview at a past meeting for the Decoding Formal Club, a forum hosted by Oski Technology for formal enthusiasts, pioneers, leaders and colleagues who work to promote the sharing of ideas and the advancement of formal technology. On February 9 Synopsys is sponsoring the next Decoding Formal Club Meeting about constraints, liveness vs. safety, formal at ARM (and a Klein bottle). Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Sign up here.

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