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 The Breker Trekker

Posts Tagged ‘assertions’

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.


The Secret Decoder Ring for Formal Analysis

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Those of us of a certain age will remember the secret decoder rings promoted by various products and TV shows. They generally used a simple substitution code to map letters to numbers. According to Wikipedia these have been offered as recently as 2000, so perhaps they are known to younger readers as well. What’s germane to today’s blog post is that formal services company Oski Technology has cleverly used this device as a graphical element in promoting its “Decoding Formal” Club series.

I’ve reported before from these events, which I believe have been very effective at advocating for formal analysis, sharing tricks and techniques, and demystifying what was once regarded as an arcane academic approach to verification. Last week I attended another Decoding Formal Club forum and, as usual, was impressed by the depth of the presentations. Since formal is always a popular topic among readers of The Breker Trekker, I’m going to share a few highlights from that afternoon.


Would You Rather Push on a Rope or Pull It?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Last week we talked once again about our familiar mantra to “begin with the end in mind” when performing SoC verification. We described the enormous value that graph-based scenario models provide by enabling automatic test case generation from desired results. TrekSoC can walk the graph backwards, from result to inputs, and generate the C code necessary to exercise true user-level test cases across multiple threads and multiple heterogenous processors.

It’s clear even to the biggest fans of the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) that this standard breaks down at the full-chip level for an SoC containing one or more embedded processors. The UVM, for all its good points, does not encompass code executing on processors and does not provide any guidance on how to link such code with the testbench that connects the chip’s inputs and outputs. The value of scenario models for SoCs is clear. But what about large chips without embedded processors? Does Breker have a role to play there as well?


Beginning with the End in Mind: Graphs and Formal

Monday, June 30th, 2014

I’ve written about formal analysis rather frequently in this blog, although I do not consider Breker’s products to be formal in nature. There are several reasons for this. After ten years working with formal tools, I remain personally interested in that market. I also see interesting parallels between the adoption of formal and graph-based technologies. Further, whenever we cover formal analysis we get a great response. Clearly our readers like the topic as well.

I’m returning to formal this week because of a provocative comment made by one of our customers at DAC a few weeks ago. Wolfgang Roesner from IBM participated on the show floor in a Pavilion Panel called “The Asymptote of Verification.” Among several astute observations about the attributes of graph-based scenario models, he made a comparison with formal analysis that I found especially perceptive.


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.


DownStream: Solutions for Post Processing PCB Designs
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TrueCircuits: IoTPLL

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