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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.