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 The Breker Trekker

Posts Tagged ‘ESL’

SoCs in Space!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

The title of last week’s post was a play on a Mark Twain quote. This week I draw from a more contemporary source: The Muppets. Some episodes of the legendary family TV show featured a skit called “Pigs in Space.” In my head I’m reading “SoCs in Space!” with the same booming intonation used on the show for “Pigs in Space” to lead into a somewhat more serious discussion about the use of advanced chips in extreme conditions.

My prompt for this particular post came not from TV, but from an announcement yesterday that VORAGO Technologies is offering an ARM-based microcontroller (MCU) “designed specifically for radiation and extreme temperature operation without up-screening.” In other words, they ship an MCU that’s ready to use in such traditionally challenging environments as automobiles and industrial controllers as well as, yes, space. That got me thinking about even more complex chips such as SoCs and the extreme conditions they might have to face.


The Report of Simulation’s Death Was an Exaggeration

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

With a nod to Mark Twain, this week I’d like to comment on a recent three-part series with the provocative title “Are Simulation’s Days Numbered?” The articles were transcribed from one of the “experts at the table” events that SemiconductorEngineering does so well. Breker wasn’t involved in this particular roundtable, but I enjoyed reading the series and found that it stirred up some thoughts. As a blogger, of course I’m going to share them with you and I hope you enjoy them in turn.

Let’s get this out of the way immediately: in three parts and more than 5,000 words, there was no mention of portable stimulus. That might not seem too surprising given the title, but in fact verification portability both from IP to system and from simulation to hardware arose during the discussion. So I’ll comment on that but, given my background as a vendor of formal EDA tools and reusable IP blocks, there are a few other topics that also piqued my interest.


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.


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.


Why C/C++ Is the Lingua Franca for Verification

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

In last week’s post, we dissected the results for verification languages and methodologies from a recent survey by Mentor Graphics and Wilson Research Group. The main result was that SystemVerilog is growing in popularity on all fronts, but we observed that C/C++ has a significant presence. We also argued that the survey’s focus on simulation likely resulted in C/C++ being under-represented since these languages are widely used for verification with hardware platforms and for silicon validation in the lab.

We see C/C++ as the common link for many types of programming activities, and so widely known that many consider it the lingua franca of software. Just type “lingua franca C/C++” into your favorite search engine and scan the results for some interesting arguments and a few counter-arguments. To be fair, some observers consider C the lingua franca and downplay C++. We tend to group them together since object-oriented programming is now widespread and so moving from C to C++ should be a natural transition.


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.


Report from the 2015 Silicon Valley IP Users Conference

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

One of the most interesting events I attended last year was the 2014 Silicon Valley IP Users Conference, organized and presented by IPextreme and their Constellations program partners. It was a wonderfully well-organized day, with excellent speakers in the fun environment of San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House. On Tuesday of this week, I attended the 2015 version of the conference and once again was impressed by both the technical content and the networking opportunities.

This year we were nestled in the foothills of Los Gatos at the historic Testarossa Winery, coincidentally on the same day that Manresa Restaurant just down the street was awarded its third Michelin star. With a wine tasting after the presentations, we were all in a celebratory mood. I was most intrigued by the panels, so I’d like to devote today’s post to a summary of some of the more interesting points I heard and what they might mean for the semiconductor industry, the EDA industry, and Breker.


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