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Archive for 2014

A Fond Farewell to DAC 51 in San Francisco

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

The 51st Design Automation Conference (DAC) has passed into the history books with three days of exhibits and a wide range of enveloping technical sessions and tutorials. After returning home, I’m thinking back over the week fondly as I nurse feet that ache more than I thought possible. Before I get back into the usual work routine, I want to capture some of the impressions and thoughts running through my head.

There is no doubt that  big forces in the industry are aligning toward our view of SoC verification with graph-based scenario models. Many of the people who stopped by our “USS Ice Breker” booth completely understood that they risked hitting an iceberg with their minimal full-chip verification efforts. Some had heard about Breker from colleagues or had seen us listed in Gary Smith’s and John Cooley’s DAC “must see” lists. Others knew little about us but were attracted by our claim as “The SoC Verification Company.” All wanted to know how we can help them.


DAC is Back! A Preview of the San Francisco Show

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

DAC is back, Jack! The big show returns to San Francisco for two years before heading back to Austin. Last year was a special one for Breker, with our 10th anniversary as a company, the 50th year of DAC, and the first time for the show in Austin, our birthplace. But no location draws more visitors and more buzz than San Francisco. It’s a short train ride from traditional Silicon Valley and arguably part of an extended definition of Silicon Valley that includes a fair chunk of the Bay Area.

This year’s show promises plenty of excitement, and we’d like to fill you in. Of course, we will be there as part of the always lively exhibit floor. Those of you who attended DAC in Austin will surely remember our naval-themed “USS Ice Breker” booth, which we loved so much we’re shipping it to San Francisco. No visit to the DAC exhibits would be complete without stopping by to see Breker in booth 2602 and taking a “cruise” with us. You can request a meeting at a specific time by visiting our DAC signup page.


Guest Post: DAC, the Industry Marathon to Beat All Industry Marathons

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Many newcomers to Breker’s Web site comment that they are impressed by the quantity and quality of the material located or linked there. For a small company, Breker does publish a lot. Our site links to nearly 250 items from the last two-and-a-half years: conference papers, technical articles, blog posts, press releases, interviews, press coverage, and more. On average, something by or about Breker appears online twice a week, not counting social media alerts or the content hosted on our own site.

Of course this takes a lot of effort by Breker employees, but this level of production would not be possible without the expertise of Nanette Collins, whose marketing and public relations agency has been instrumental in the success of many EDA companies. We thank her for her efforts and welcome her as a guest blogger today. Nanette shares her thoughts on the upcoming (June 2-4) Design Automation Conference (DAC) in San Francisco:


To Standardize or Not to Standardize, That Is the Question

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

As regular readers know, Breker’s claim to fame is the automatic generation of multi-threaded, self-verifying test cases that run on multiple heterogeneous processors within an SoC. The source for the generation process is a graph-based scenario model that captures the design intent and verification space. We chose graphs as an enabling technology more than ten years ago for a number of reasons, some of which we’ll discuss in this post.

The catalyst for this discussion is a new effort within the Accellera standards body to form the Portable Stimulus Specification Proposed Working Group (PWG). Basically, Accellera has formed a proposed working group to determine whether a technical working group should be established to start developing a specification for a standard. What does this have to do with graphs, and Breker? We’ll do our best to explain the history and current status.


Building a Productive Team for New Verification Approaches

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Last week I used a talk by Vigyan Singhal, CEO of formal consulting experts Oski Technology, as the springboard for a blog post on how to extend verification planning for formal analysis and graph-based SoC verification. This week, I’m using a panel held at that same “Decoding Formal Club” meeting as the starting point for my thoughts on how to establish an effective team to use relatively new verification technologies such as formal and graphs.

The second half of the meeting was a panel on “How to Build a Productive Formal Team” moderated by Harry Foster from Mentor. The participants included a nice mix of users, while Vigyan rounded out the panel with his unique blend of formal tool development and hands-on usage with many customers. Although there wasn’t much controversy per se, it was clear that everyone had different experiences leading to different opinions on how to build a strong formal team.


Extending Verification Planning to Formal and Graphs

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Last week I mentioned that I attended the third “Decoding Formal Club” meeting sponsored by formal consulting experts Oski Technology. I started out to write about this event but was distracted by the big news that Cadence had acquired formal leader Jasper Design Automation for $170M. As the meeting was winding up, a friend from Mentor picked up the news alert and showed it to me. I pulled up the news on my own smartphone and showed it to Vigyan Singhal, CEO of Oski and also the original founder of Jasper.

So I had the pleasure of informing Jasper’s founder that his old company had been acquired. But I don’t want to let that bit of fun or the Jasper news in general to lead us to forget about the Decoding Formal meeting. There were two primary segments: a presentation from Vigyan on verification planning and a panel of expert users on building a formal team. I’ll talk about the presentation today and cover the panel in a future post.


April 21, 2014: A-Day for Formal Analysis

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Yesterday may well go down in EDA history as one of the most important days in the evolution of the market for formal analysis. If you had asked me why yesterday morning, I would have said it was because I was attending the third “Decoding Formal Club” meeting sponsored by formal consulting experts Oski Technology. The range of companies represented there, and the enthusiasm for the topic, was a clear indication that formal has become an A-list technology for many verification teams.

So I planned to write today’s post about this meeting. But then, just as it was ending and Oski was thanking all the participants, news broke that Cadence had acquired formal leader Jasper Design Automation for $170M. Of course, this news was of intense interest to the attendees. It made yesterday “Acquisition Day” for formal analysis, so I’ll dub it “A-Day” and provide some thoughts in this post. I will talk a bit about the meeting as well, but will go into more details about the material presented in a future post.


Ruminating about Accelerating, Emulating, and Prototyping

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Last week I published a commentary on the Electronic Engineering Times site about the recent growth in the hardware emulation market. I noted that hardware-based platforms have become almost as big a market as software simulation and that some industry projections see them becoming dominant over the next few years. Of course, our friends at Jasper are predicting that formal will become the dominant verification technology, so it will be fun watching a three-way race.

For this post, I want to dig a bit deeper on hardware platforms in general. Historically, such platforms have been divided into three categories: simulation acceleration, in-circuit emulation (ICE), and FPGA prototyping. The reality is that these are no longer clearly distinct categories; there is a lot of fuzziness and even some overlap. While the market for all three types of hardware platforms is growing, I find that my observations and opinions vary depending upon which specific solution I’m considering.


The Dawn of the Embedded Verification Engineer

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Some readers may recall that I was on the panel “Is Software the Missing Piece In Verification?” at this year’s DVCon. I mentioned a bit about it in my summary of that show, and moderator Ed Sperling has done an outstanding job of transcribing the panel discussion and transforming it into one of his signature “Experts at the Table” three part series on SemiconductorEngineering. I encourage you to read all three parts since a bunch of interesting topics came up.

Cadence recently published an odd blog post that appeared to be based on the panel: it showed a photo of the panelists and included quotes from several of them, although it mentioned neither DVCon nor the panel. Perhaps they were trying to make it sound as if they held a separate event. They quoted their own representative, the panelist from Vayavya, and the panelist from Intel (although they didn’t list his affiliation). But they did hit on one of the more lively topics of the panel: the changing role of the verification engineer.


Coverage from Running SoC Silicon? How Is That Possible?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

In our last post, we discussed some details of the demo that we showed at the DVCon and SNUG Silicon Valley events, in which TrekSoC-Si generated a test case, downloaded it into a commercial SoC (a TI OMAP4430 with dual ARM cores), and ran it in the actual chip. Our focus last time was on Breker’s unique visualization for the multi-threaded, multi-processor test cases that we generate. Specifically, we provide the same display for a test case running in silicon as we do for one running in simulation or simulation acceleration.

Even more interesting is our ability to display coverage information for test cases running in silicon. You might think that this is impossible unless we’re building coverage structures into the SoC that you fabricate. Customers have been known to build specific types of coverage metrics into their hardware, for example real-time monitoring of bus bandwidth and SoC performance. But that’s not what we’re doing; we can gather highly accurate system-level overage without changing the design a bit.


S2C: FPGA Base prototyping- Download white paper

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