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 The Breker Trekker

Posts Tagged ‘Cadence’

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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Report from the 16th MTV Workshop

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Do you want to hear all the behind-the-scenes dirt from a workshop on the future of the MTV cable channel? Well, you’ll have to look elsewhere. “MTV” in this case means the International Workshop on Microprocessor Test and Verification, which celebrated its 16th incarnation in Austin two weeks ago. Although the name of the workshop has officially expanded to “Microprocessor and SOC Test and Verification” rest assured that the delightfully ambiguous abbreviation “MTV” will remain.

This was only my second time at this event, but I wish that I had been able to attend more. The setting is the top floor of the Hyatt Regency, with great views of Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) and downtown Austin. However, I noticed that recent high-rise construction has now blocked the sight of the Texas State Capitol from the hotel. The view might be distracting if not for the fact that the technical committee put together an interesting and diverse program, including a panel on portable stimulus.

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Verification Languages: Tower of Babel?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

One of the cliches we hear from time to time in the industry is “designers want to stick with a single language, but verification engineers love learning new things.” The implication seems to be that because verification engineers have diverse jobs that require them to juggle lots of different tools and models, they necessarily have to learn new languages and methodologies on a regular basis. Of course, they may not actually love learning new languages; doing so may just be in the nature of their work.

Regardless of whether or not they “love” new languages, it is clear that most verification projects involve multiple languages and multiple approaches. One way to gauge the current situation is to turn to the excellent survey that Mentor Graphics performs with Wilson Research Group every couple of years. Harry Foster wrote a series of posts on the Mentor verification blog that give considerable insight into what verification (and design) engineers are doing on real projects.

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Invention Protection: Patently Obvious or Patently Absurd?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

The long-established trade association EDA Consortium (EDAC) has started several new initiatives to extend its membership to IP suppliers and to offer more value to its members through new programs. New EDAC Director Bob Smith has a bunch of innovative ideas and I have little doubt that they will breathe new life into the organization. I had the pleasure of working with Bob when he did some consulting for Breker several years ago, and he’s a true professional.

Last week I attended the first in a series of legal-themed events sponsored by EDAC. I expected that the title “Patents and Patent Litigation: Develop, Strengthen, and Protect Your Intellectual Property” would draw well, and indeed the conference room at SEMI Global Headquarters in San Jose was packed. I won’t attempt to cover the wide range of topics addressed, but I would like to hit a few highlights from the panel discussion and the excellent questions from the moderator and the audience.

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The Results Are In, and Graphs Win!

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Anyone who has followed Breker for any length of time knows that our key technology is the ability to generate both Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) testbench transactions and C test cases running on SoC embedded processors automatically from graph-based scenario models. Yes, that’s a long sentence but it’s most of the “elevator pitch” that we might deliver to a potential investor or to a visitor at a trade show booth asking what we do.

For the purposes of today’s post, note that graphs are the root of the solution we provide. Ten years ago, when we first began talking about the idea of graphs as the basis for functional verification of complex chip designs, we were the proverbial pioneer with arrows in our back. But many successful customer engagements and the ever-rising need for better verification have validated our position. Graphs are clearly the “next big thing” in verification and we’d like to explain why.

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Riding the Portable Stimulus Wave

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Last week, we discussed the details of a noteworthy press release that we issued with Cadence and Mentor Graphics announcing a joint contribution to the Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) of Accellera Systems Initiative. As we expected, this release stirred up a lot of interest in portable stimulus. The timing was perfect, both because of today’s deadline for contributions to the PSWG and because of last week’s DVCon India conference. I’d like to provide some updates on both activities.

First of all, the three companies did upload our joint contribution document to the PSWG internal Web site today in time for the deadline. Please note that, as per the rules for Accellera and most other standards groups, working documents are not available to the general public. If you’d like to see the contribution and follow the evolution of the standard, please consider joining the PSWG. If your company is not yet a member of Accellera, then please alert your standards manager to the benefits of participation.

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Breker, Cadence, and Mentor Accelerate Portable Stimulus Standard

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

This morning, Breker issued a press release with Cadence and Mentor Graphics announcing a joint contribution to the Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) of Accellera Systems Initiative. We expect that this news may be surprising to much of the EDA world, so we’d like to take today’s post on The Breker Trekker to fill in some background and offer you the opportunity to ask questions. Please note that we are speaking only for Breker in this post although we doubtless share many opinions with our co-contributors.

Let’s start with a quick summary of how Accellera works so that all readers understand the context for this major contribution. The portable stimulus effort started with a Proposed Working Group last year that assessed the interest in a standard and defined a set of more than 100 requirements that such a standard would have to satisfy. Accellera approved the formation of the PSWG and we began meeting in March of this year. We have refined the requirements list and also developed a set of “use cases” showing the sort of real-world verification problems that a standard would have to address.

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Using Scenario Models to Capture Use Cases

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

One of the signs that a technological domain is still fairly young is frequently evolving terminology as the pioneers attempt to explain to the mainstream what problem needs to be solved and what solutions can be brought to bear on the problem. Such is the case with SoC verification. At Breker we used to start explaining what we do by talking about graphs, but shifted to “graph-based scenario models” to emphasize that graphs are perfect for expressing scenarios of real-world behavior.

Our friends at Mentor, also strong advocates for graphs, began using the term “software-driven verification” to describe their approach. We rather like this description, but feel that it can only be applied accurately when embedded test code is being generated and when the embedded processors are in charge of the test case. Now our friends at Cadence have been sprinkling the term “use case” throughout their discussions on SoC and system verification. Let’s try to sort out what all this means.

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Congratulations to Richard Goering for a Great Career

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

The recent death of EDA analyst Gary Smith overshadowed another major transition in our industry: the retirement of longtime EDA journalist Richard Goering at the end of June. Both of these men contributed an extraordinary amount to EDA, and today I’d like to say a bit about Richard and his accomplishments. He is best remembered as the CAD/CAE/EDA editor for Electronic Engineering Times, for many years the newspaper of record for electronics.

It would be hard for today’s young engineers to imagine how influential EE Times was at its peak. It stood out on everyone’s desk with its distinctive tabloid format. Most buyers turned to its pages first. All vendors wanted to achieve editorial coverage for their companies and products, in addition to advertising there. The EE Times journalists and editors were some of the best and brightest. Landing an interview with one of them was a goal for every PR campaign. When it came to EDA, Richard Goering was the man.

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The Ever-Changing EDA Landscape

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

In last week’s post on The Breker Trekker blog, we surveyed the semiconductor market for the past 15 years or so from the standpoint of revenue leadership. Wikipedia provides a set of  tables showing the top 20 semiconductor vendors for each year. We compiled this data into a single table, and found that this revealed some clear trends of how the industry has evolved during this period. The many spin-offs, mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies resulted in constant changes in the lower ranks of the top 20, and even some shuffling among the top players. This topic proved to be of great interest to our readers, with this week-old post surpassing many popular older posts.

Last week we also contrasted the semiconductor market with the EDA market, in which the top three revenue leaders have been the same for more than 20 years. Unlike semiconductors, there are almost no other EDA companies beyond the top three that were around 15-20 years ago and still exist today. We have had many spin-offs, mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies in our industry as well. Like semiconductors, we have had many changes in rankings beyond the very top tier, so we thought that we would try this week to create a similar chart and perform a similar analysis for EDA. However, this has not proven possible. We’d like to explain why and offer some more thoughts on the EDA market and how it differs from semiconductors.

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CST: Webinar series



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