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 The Breker Trekker

Posts Tagged ‘formal’

Guest Post: Open Source Requires Open Minds, Especially in EDA Verification

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Few recent announcements in the EDA, IP, or semiconductor industries have had the impact of SoftBank’s proposed US$32B acquisition of ARM. Many commentators have weighed in on this news. Today’s guest blogger, OneSpin Solutions Vice President of Marketing David Kelf, shares some thoughts on how changes to the ARM universe might intersect with ongoing changes in the open source community:

One side effect of the ARM acquisition news was an increase in the debate on the fascinating RISC-V Open Source processor development. Clearly this has the interest of a number of significant ARM users, judging by the recent workshop at MIT last week as one example, and might represent a significant game changer. It also begs the question on the application of Open Source, and indeed standardization efforts in general, in verification and how programs in this area might change the dynamics of increasingly closed environments from the two largest EDA vendors. (more…)

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.


Guest Post: Rain or Shine for the EDA Cloud?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Recent announcements from IBM and others about supporting EDA tools in the cloud have spurred renewed discussion on this topic, including here at The Breker Trekker. As expected, the recent posts have been very popular with our readers. Those of you who have been following this topic for a while may recall that, almost exactly two years ago, EDA vendor OneSpin announced cloud support for their formal tools. We invited their VP of Marketing, Dave Kelf, to fill us in their experiences since then:

Two years ago OneSpin introduced the cloud version of it’s Design Verification (DV) formal-based products. Some commentators pointed at other failed EDA attempts to make the same move, suggesting more of the same. Others hailed the announcement as a bold move whose time had come. So… did it work out and what have we learned? The results are surprising, and suggest trends that make some EDA solutions a natural fit for the cloud, whereas others are questionable.


Decoding Formal Club Unlocks Some Mysteries

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Last May, I published two blog posts on the presentations made at a “Decoding Formal Club” event hosted by the smart folks from Oski Technology at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. With everything else going on, I didn’t manage to make it to another of their regular meetings until last week. The first event of 2015 was very interesting, so again I’m returning to the popular topic of formal analysis and playing reporter. The line between media and blogging is rather thin these days anyway.

This edition of Decoding Formal featured three talks, one an end-user case study and the other two  instructional in nature from well-known formal experts. I found all three worthwhile and will do my best to communicate some of the main points made. I also have to mention the final presentation, more a performance than a talk, by the inimitable and irrepressible Clifford Stoll. Lately he’s been manufacturing and selling Klein bottles, which you may remember from a geometry teacher trying to mess with your mind.


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.


Will Formal Really Dominate Verification?

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Today’s post is prompted by a recent article on SemiWiki in which Jasper Design Automation’s CEO Kathryn Kranen is quoted as saying “formal will dominate verification.” There is a nice set of metrics from Jasper’s recent User Group meeting showing their impressive growth in revenue, logos, users, and licenses as supporting evidence for formal’s increasing footprint. The article concludes by stating “at some point in the future, formal will be the default choice for every verification task in the way that simulation/emulation is today.”

That made me sit up and take notice. Before joining Breker, I spent the previous 12 years of my career focusing on formal analysis, about six years full-time and the rest as one component of a wider suite of verification products I managed. I’m a big fan of formal, but I don’t think that I can comfortably predict that it will “dominate” verification. Let  me share my thoughts.


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