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Posts Tagged ‘Accellera’

Catching Up with Portable Stimulus

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Ever since Accellera started the Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG), this emerging technology has generated a lot of buzz both within the EDA industry and among our semiconductor and systems customers. As the pioneer in this technology we get a lot of questions about what portable stimulus is, why it is different from the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) and other established approaches, and why anyone would need it.

We’ve devoted quite a few posts to this topic in The Brekker Treker blog, stretching back two years to when Accellera first set up a proposed working group (PWG) to survey the industry and decided whether standardization of portable stimulus was feasible and desirable. Given the many posts scattered throughout the past two years, we thought that we would take this opportunity to give readers new to this topic a guided tour of the information that we have available.


Designers and Verification Engineers: Living in Different Worlds Together

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

As I discussed at last week, there are many different engineering roles involved in the development of a large, complex semiconductor device. The EDA industry attempts to serve nearly all of these groups, from the architects and product marketing engineers who dream up the new ideas to the technicians who test production parts on the factory floor. Today I’m focusing on the work of two of EDA’s most traditional customer bases: hardware designers and hardware verification engineers.

Perhaps I’d better explain my title. It comes from an old expression “we went to different schools together” that I remember hearing as a youngster. Sometimes this refers to two people who didn’t actually attend the same school but who are nevertheless longtime close friends. But I’ve also heard it used to refer to two people who did in fact go to school together but had very different experiences. This latter context is the one I have mind for design and verification engineers who work on the same project yet inhabit different worlds.


It’s Never too Early to Start Thinking about DAC

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

For those of us who have been in the EDA business on one side or the other (or both), the Design Automation Conference (DAC) is one of the highlights of every year. I almost hate to admit it, but this year holds DAC number 29 for me. I’ve been to San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Las Vegas, Dallas, New Orleans, and Orlando, most of them multiple times. But one of the most fun locations was Austin, where DAC was held for the first time three years ago, and where we will return in just a few short months.

There will be plenty of time later for us to fill you in on what Breker will be doing at DAC this year. Since the program for the 53rd annual conference just went live, I thought I’d share some initial impressions and predict some likely highlights. Of course as an exhibitor I’m already deep in planning for the show, but I encourage all of you to review the program and start making your own plans. You’ll be sure to have lots of fun in Austin, and on the basis of the information available today I’m sure that this will be a great show.


A Portable Stimulus Standard Will Take Time, but the Technology is Here Today

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Last week, we used an update on the Accellera Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) presented at the Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) as a jumping-off point to discuss the status of this standardization effort and some key aspects of the three proposals currently under consideration. We were not the only blog to cover portable stimulus topics from DVCon; Brian Bailey of SemiconductorEngineering and Bernard Murphy from SemiWiki also posted their observations.

Earlier this week, EDACafe blogger colleague Peggy Aycinena posted a thought-provoking look at PSWG and the portable stimulus challenge. In regards to the scope of the proposed standard, she noted “a distinct wow factor in all of this, it’s so comprehensive” and said “this whole effort seems massive to me.” Today we’d like to respond to Peggy’s comments and questions, noting both the challenges of a portable stimulus standard and the availability of a working solution today.


A Snapshot Update on the Accellera Portable Stimulus Effort

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

As all of our regular readers are aware, the software-driven SoC verification space pioneered by Breker is becoming more of a mainstream approach every day. One good barometer for the industry shift now underway is the standardization effort in progress within the Accellera Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG). The amount of interest in this standard has skyrocketed recently, and portable stimulus was a hot topic at the Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) two weeks ago.

As we promised when we first began discussing the PSWG, we don’t believe in sharing internal details of standardization work in a public blog. However, the group was offered a slot to present an update at an Accellera-sponsored lunch during DVCon. So the PSWG put together a set of slides with information to share publicly and Vice-Chair Tom Fitzpatrick of Mentor did a nice job of presenting them. For those of you who could not attend, we’ll summarize the current status in today’s blog post.


DVCon Panel: Trying to Define the ESL Shapeshifter

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

In last week’s post on The Breker Trekker we summarized activities at the Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) in San Jose, including a brief mention of the “Redefining ESL” panel on Wednesday morning. I attended this session and took detailed notes in anticipation of blogging about it, but in the process gave some thought to my own opinions about the electronic system-level (ESL) domain and how they intersect with those of the panel participants.

The panel was organized by Dave Kelf of OneSpin Solutions and PR guru Nanette Collins, and moderated by Brian Bailey of SemiconductorEngineering. Brian is a long-time observer of the ESL market so I expected him to ask some tough questions. He opened by remarking that the term is generally credited to the late EDA analyst Gary Smith. Many of us who knew Gary sometimes teased him a bit on his regular pronouncements that “this will be the year of ESL.”


Portable Stimulus Was Front and Center at this Year’s DVCon

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

We’ve just returned from our most important trade show of the year: the Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) in San Jose. Sure, DAC is a bigger show, but it covers all of EDA and so lacks the front-end digital focus of DVCon. We previewed the event over our last few blog posts and today we’d like to summarize what happened and make a prediction or two about how this particular DVCon will affect the industry.

The biggest news for us was that portable stimulus seemed to be on everyone’s lips this year. Many of the engineers who stopped by to visit our booth had heard the term and were aware that the Accellera Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) is developing a standard. If they didn’t know what portable stimulus was, they almost surely knew by the end of the show.


Revisiting System / Scenario / Use-Case Coverage

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

It’s been more than a year since we presented the Breker view of system coverage in detail, so it’s time to revisit the topic. We first defined the notion of system coverage as measuring which realistic, system-level application scenarios have been exercised using the existing test cases. We then demonstrated how our graph-based scenario models are ideally suited to capture system coverage metrics and fine-tune them using graph constraints if needed.

More recently, we noted that the term “use cases” has become more widespread and introduced the example of a digital camera SoC to show the types of use cases that should be exercised. The measurement for this exercise is also system coverage, so the bottom line is that all these terms are really talking about the same thing. Using a regular expression, we might say:

[application|realistic] (scenario|use-case) coverage = system coverage


Top 5 Latest Holiday Gifts for the Verification Engineer

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

It’s becoming somewhat of a tradition here on The Breker Trekker blog to close each year with a list of gifts available from us to verification engineers. We started the series two years ago with an initial list focusing on our core benefits of automatic test case generation, system coverage, and reuse both vertically (IP to system) and horizontally (simulation to silicon). Last year’s post offered five more gifts reflecting additional products and new features added to our overall solution:

#5: Easier sequence specification in UVM testbenches.
#4: Faster coverage closure in UVM testbenches.
#3: Integration of system coverage with other coverage metrics.
#2: Debug of automatic test cases using standard tools.
#1: A fully automated solution for cache coherency verification.

Every one of the ten gifts from 2013 and 2014 is still available today for our customers. In addition, we have continued to evolve our Trek family of products and to deploy it on ever more challenging SoC verification projects. Without further ado, here is our all-new list of holiday gifts for the verification engineer in 2015:


Frontiers of Microprocessor Test and Verification

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

In last week’s blog post, I reported from the recent 16th International Workshop on Microprocessor Test and Verification (MTV) in Austin. I focused mostly on the panel “Portable Stimulus and Testbenches – Possibilities or Wishful Thinking?” that included representatives from ARM, Cadence, Mentor, Synopsys, Freescale (now NXP), and Breker (yours truly). The panel was most enjoyable, but only one of several highlights for me at MTV.

This week, I’d like to touch briefly on some of the talks and topics on the technical program that caught my ear. These reflected a number of research frontiers for verification as well as several real-world case studies of SoC design projects tackling tough verification challenges. Perhaps the best moment for me was hearing Altera, one of our customers, describe how they used our products successfully on a recent design.


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