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Archive for January, 2015

A Personal History of Transaction Interfaces to Hardware Emulation: Part 1

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I met Dan Hafeman and another friend for beer in Sunnyvale. I’ve worked with Dan twice: first when he was an executive and co-founder of IKOS Systems, and again at the Educational Garden at Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale, which he now manages.

The discussion we had turned to the best idea he ever had in his career: what we used to call “co-modeling”. It led to IKOS’ largest ever sale in 2000. Because I’m now more plugged into the verification world than he is (though he remains much more in touch with kale and broccoli), I was able to congratulate him that this is now a mainstream verification technique when using emulators.

Co-modeling was what we used to call  transaction interfaces to emulators — in other words, using the Accellera standard SCE-MI 2 interface. When it was new, no one quite knew what to call it. The IKOS press release in 2000 called it the “data streaming portal” because that seemed the best way to position it.

SCE-MI-diagram

Figure 1. Block diagram showing testbench connection to an emulator/simulator via Standard Co-Emulation Modeling Interface (Courtesy of SCE-MI Accellera standard)

Dan says the idea first popped up in 1985 when IKOS had to re-vamp its initial product offering. IKOS had created a product for driving signals into a hardware accelerator. Over time this evolved into the mixed-level interfaces to HDL simulation implemented by the NSIM accelerator, but this was not really the most efficient modeling interface. Accelerators and emulators may be fast, but interfaces to them are not. You want to make a single data transfer count for a lot (i.e., a lot of verification cycles) with a high-level transaction. (more…)

Intel’s new SoC-based Broadwell CPUs: Less Filling, Taste Great!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Intel recently announced its new fifth generation ‘Broadwell’  processor chips for personal computers, laptops and server.   Using  14nm geometry the new line of CPUs offers a lower power footprint, better throughput for multimedia, while keeping computing performance flat.

The following graphic outlines that the raw number of transisitors has grown 35% to 1.4 billion for an i7 CPU.   The TDP (total dissipated power) for theses designs is only 15W.   It can throttle back to 7.5W for even lower battery burn.

intel-broadweel-2

For server applications, the CPUs are even larger to almost 2 billion transistors.  Total power tops out at 28 watts.

(more…)

Reporting Happiness: Not as Easy as You Think

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Like other successful design automation companies we have many happy customers that use our tools.  Marketeers like myself crave getting customer stories and comments to share with the world at large.   While an individual engineer is happy to share his point of view why he likes one of our tools, before it can be made public and ascribed to engineer X at company Y, it must pass through a gauntlet of approvals by upper management at the customer.  Often there is a “quid pro quo” in this process.  In other words, to get company management to approve the quote, some benefit in the form of additional pricing discount, or extra short-term licenses is negotiated.  Or sometimes management sees Real Intent’s static solutions as one of their ‘secret weapons’ and don’t want to share the good news with potential competitors.

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38th VLSI Design Conf. Keynote: Nilekani on IoT and Smartphones

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Real Intent and its distributor Claytronic Solutions participated this week at the the 28th International Conference on VLSI Design in Bangalore, January 5-7.

ri-booth-2015

Real Intent booth in the exhibition area

The conference is hosting industry’s first IoT-Ideathon, a 60 – hour long event, in which over 100 students and young professionals are taking part and to create 25 new and innovative applications in the internet-of-things.

In keeping with the IoT theme, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani Monday predicted emergence of smart phones with biometric sensors in a keynote address.

“As biometric sensors get popular and cheaper, the next generation of smart phones will have iris cameras built into them. In a year or two, we will have sub-$100 smart phones with an iris camera that does authentication of the Aadhaar number,” Nilekani, a former Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chief.

(more…)

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