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 The Breker Trekker

Archive for 2014

Visibility into Running SoC Silicon? Tell Us More!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

As we mentioned in our last few posts regarding the DVCon and SNUG Silicon Valley events, Breker exhibited at both shows with an identical demonstration. We showed our latest product, TrekSoC-Si, generating a test case, downloading it into a commercial SoC (a TI OMAP4430 with dual ARM cores), and running in the actual chip. This demonstrated our ability to support all verification platforms, from ESL and RTL simulation through acceleration, emulation, FPGA prototyping, and silicon.

This demo attracted quite a bit of interest and some good questions at both shows, so we thought we’d devote this blog post to filling in a few of the details. We especially want to stress that we provide exactly the same level of visualization for a multi-threaded, multi-processor test case running deep inside an actual chip as we do when it’s running in simulation or simulation acceleration.

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Please Visit Us at SNUG Silicon Valley Next Monday

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Perhaps by now you’re tired of reading about DVCon, but our last few posts have drawn very good readership so we know that the show is important to the verification-minded engineers who read The Breker Trekker. Another show, or more accurately a series of shows, has strong verification content and draws well from the verification community. We’re talking about the series of Synopsys Users Group (SNUG) events held worldwide to much acclaim from attendees and participating vendors.

According to the SNUG site, Synopsys has 13 shows scheduled annually in Asia, Europe, and North America, drawing nearly 9000 users. That’s a very impressive series of events by any measure and a sign that the EDA market leader invests heavily in educating its users and providing a forum where they can interact among themselves and with Synopsys technical experts. Next week is the 2014 edition of SNUG Silicon Valley, and we want you to know that Breker will be there.

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Final Report on the Big DVCon 2014 Show

Monday, March 10th, 2014

In our last two posts, we talked about the 2014 edition of the Design & Verification Conference & Exhibition, DVCon, in San Jose. Now that the show is history, lots of bloggers are summarizing their experience. Since I thought that this was an excellent event all around, allow me to join the chorus of voices praising DVCon 2014.

Here at Breker, our biggest effort goes toward the exhibition. Although it’s a relatively small booth and exhibit floor, we do want to put our best foot forward. So we had all-new signage this year updating attendees on our products and their capabilities. We also showed a very different demo from last year, with our TrekSoC-Si product generating a test case, downloading it into a commercial SoC (a TI OMAP4430), and running in the actual chip. We chose to repeat our very popular giveaway from DAC: a combined flashlight and distress whistle that will come in handy if you perform inadequate SoC verification and hit an iceberg.

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Half-Time Report from DVCon in San Jose

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

As we write this post, it’s Tuesday evening and the Design & Verification Conference & Exhibition 2014, DVCon, is halfway over. We could be traditional and have a college marching band entertain us and form schematic diagrams on the field as we wait for the show to resume. We could hire some entertainer whose appeal has faded and who’s willing to do half-time shows to try to resurrect his or her career. But instead we’re going to settle for a simple report.

Monday evening featured, for the first time, an early look at the exhibition floor. DVCon reported that the show has a record number of exhibitors this year, and in fact they spilled out of the DoubleTree ballroom into the lobby. In a time when so many conferences are shrinking, the news that DVCon is growing is most welcome.

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Sound the Trumpets! It’s DVCon Time Again!

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Next week (March 3-6) marks the return of the most important annual event for verification engineers: the Design & Verification Conference & Exhibition 2014, better known as DVCon. Its home remains the DoubleTree hotel in San Jose, a Silicon Valley landmark and site of many interesting conferences going back to its original days as the Red Lion Inn. Breker will be there in force, so we’d like to tell you about our activities as well as preview the technical program.

Of course, Breker will be participating in the exhibition portion of the show. This has expanded from previous years. The exhibit floor will be open on Tuesday (March 4) and Wednesday (March 5) from 2:30pm to 6:00pm as usual. However, a special preview on Monday from 5:00pm to 7:00pm has been added this year. You’ll have plenty of time to stop by to visit Breker in booth number 902 and (if you must) perhaps some other vendors as well.

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Making Verification Debug Less Painful

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

In our last post, we discussed the results of a survey by Wilson Research Group and Mentor Graphics. Among other interesting statistics, we learned that verification engineers spend 36% of their time on debug. This seems consistent with both previous surveys and general industry wisdom. As SoC designs get larger and more complex, the verification effort grows much faster than the design effort. The term “verification gap” seems to be on the lips of just about every industry observer and analyst.

We noted that debug can be separated into three categories: hardware, software, and infrastructure. Hardware debug involves tracking down an error in the design, usually in the RTL code. Software debug is needed when a coding mistake in production software prevents proper function. Verification infrastructure–testbenches and models of all kinds–may also contain bugs that need to be diagnosed and fixed. As promised, this post discusses some of the ways that Breker can help in all three areas.

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Bugged about Debug? We Can Help!

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

For today’s blog post, we use as our text a recent article on SemiWiki by well-known verification expert Hemendra Talesara. He provides a nice summary of a recent talk given in Austin by another verification expert, Harry Foster from Mentor. Many of you have probably seen Harry’s blog posts dissecting in great detail the results of a bi-annual survey that Mentor commissions from Wilson Research Group. There is much less coverage and analysis of the EDA world available today than there used to be, so we all applaud Mentor’s willingness to fund this survey and share the results.

Hemendra’s focus is on the well-known phenomenon of verification consuming more and more of a chip project’s resources. It is not uncommon to find that SoC projects have two or three verification engineers for every design engineer. So what do these verification engineers do with all their time and resources? The interesting result from the Mentor survey is that verification engineers spend 36% of their time on debug. At Breker, we’ve given a lot of thought about how to reduce debug time and effort, so we’d like to share some thoughts.

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More on the UVM: Processor or Verification Component?

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Our last post on the relationship between the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) and Breker’s technology was very popular. In only a week, it has become the fifth-most-read post in the nine-month history of The Breker Trekker blog. Clearly people are interested in the UVM and what strengths and weaknesses it brings to the ever more complex world of SoC verification.

This week we’d like to continue the discussion with a topic that we did not address last week: how the UVM offers an alternative to running embedded code by replacing one or more of the processors in the SoC with a verification component (VC). Our CEO, Adnan Hamid, addressed this topic in an Electronic Design article last November.  We’d like to revisit some of the key points of that article in the context of last week’s UVM discussion

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We Like the UVM, Really We Do!

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

When people first start reading about Breker and what we do, we make the point that transactional simulation testbenches are breaking down at the full-SoC level. Usually, we specifically mention the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) standard from Accellera as not being up to the challenge of full-chip verification for SoC designs. We sometimes worry that someone will read into this that we don’t like the UVM, or Accellera, or even standards in general. Nothing could be further from the truth!

We have great respect for the UVM and other EDA-related standards developed by Accellera, IEEE, and other organizations. In this post, we’d like to discuss specifically what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of the UVM and explain how Breker’s technology complements rather than replaces this methodology. Yes, the UVM has limitations, and we address those with our tools and technologies. But the UVM forms a stable and standard base on which nearly all of our customers build their simulation-based verification environments.

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Do Graph-Based Scenario Models Qualify as Formal?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Recently on this blog, a series of related posts from Breker, Jasper, and OneSpin discussed formal analysis and its potential for playing a greater role in the verification process. We think that it’s important for The Breker Trekker to address topics in verification beyond our own technology and to provide occasional commentary on technology and the world of EDA in general. However, this recent focus on formal has caused some readers to wonder whether we consider ourselves to be in the formal market.

The short answer is “no” but there is some overlap in the technologies that we use and the techniques employed for formal analysis. Regular readers know that the foundation for our products is a graph-based scenario model that captures both the intended behavior of your SoC design and your system-level test plan. We can automatically extract system coverage from this model, with the model and coverage interacting in interesting ways. Let’s consider to what extent this is formal technology.

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