When I first met Adnan Hamid, Breker’s CEO, his philosophical understanding of verification and its implications for electronics was as crystal clear then as it is now. He sees it as the enabler for greater innovation in chips and beyond, and takes it as his life’s mission. His passion was inspiring to me and I did not hesitate for a second when we decided to jointly start Breker. Throughout our journey, I have watched the market converge with what we are building at Breker, and have come to better appreciate my partner, the visionary man. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘IBM’
As regular readers know, the Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) of the Accellera System Initiative has been working for some time to develop a new way to define verification intent once and to be able to reuse that across all stages of the verification flow and to be able to reuse it across designs. This will dramatically increase verification efficiency and establish verification methodologies that are likely to be used for the next couple of decades. (more…)
Last week we discussed some of the drivers in the electronics industry influencing the program for the upcoming DVCon India, September 10-11 in Bangalore. The Technical Program Committee has completed its arduous task of selecting among many worthy proposals for sessions and has posted a near-final program. Today we’d like to highlight some of the most interesting aspects of the packed two days, focusing on sessions that we believe will be a particular draw for those who follow Breker and SoC verification.
There are four conference-wide keynote speeches, from Atul Bhatia (formerly of nSys), Harry Foster of Mentor, Manoj Gandhi of Synopsys, and Vinay Shenoy of Infineon. They will set the tone for the event by discussing the high-level challenges in designing and verifying leading-age semiconductor devices. Nick Heaton of Cadence will keynote the Design and Verification Track (DV) while Pankaj Singh of Infineon and Dr. Sacha Loitz of Continental will give invited talks in the Electronic System Level (ESL) track.
Last week we looked forward to the 52nd edition of the annual Design Automation Conference (DAC), held this week at Moscone Center in San Francisco. Today we look back at the past three days and all of the activity at the show. It was a very busy time for Breker as usual, but there were some special aspects this year that we’d like to mention. We also want to thank the many customers, prospects, colleagues, and even competitors who joined us at various times for provocative discussions and plenty of social networking. As always, we invite you to add your comments on DAC and what you thought about the show.
Overall, the exhibition floor seemed lively for most of the time. We frequently had multiple visitors in our booth, asking questions and watching demos. We focused on two aspects of our Trek product line: immediate availability of portable stimulus and pushbutton verification of cache coherency. We saw lots of interest in both topics and it’s hard to say which drew more attention. Our suite was booked for most of the time, with customers receiving updates from Breker and prospects discussing their verification challenges and how we might be able to help them.
We have less than a week to go before the most important event for EDA vendors and users: the annual Design Automation Conference (DAC). The show returns to Moscone Center in San Francisco, which has played host many times over the years. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, San Francisco is a great draw for out-of-towners but also just a short trip from Breker’s headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley. The combination of a strong peer-reviewed technical conference and a busy exhibition floor is unbeatable, making this a must-attend event for many in our industry.
When the technical program first came out two months ago, we posted about some of the interesting changes made this year. There are some innovative additions to the program, including keynotes from non-EDA vendors, “sky talks” from industry experts, a major focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), and tracks for such important topics as automotive electronics, IP, and security. The popular Designer Track returns with case studies from real users, and there are plenty of deep technical papers for those who spend their days coding algorithms and optimizing data structures. At least eight sessions have significant verification content.
Over the lifetime of this blog, we’ve covered a lot of diverse topics regarding Breker’s products and technology, trends in SoC verification, and the EDA industry in general. For the last month, we’ve offered our longest series of posts ever on a single topic: portable stimulus. There’s a very good reason for this: Accellera’s Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) is making good progress on defining a standard in this area. As one of the group’s leaders, Breker has been leveraging our many years of experience in SoC verification to develop the best possible industry solution. We’ve been using The Breker Trekker blog to share our thoughts and to encourage your feedback.
We begin the fifth, and perhaps most important, post in our series by reminding you that we split portable stimulus into three layers: defining the tests using abstract primitive operations, scheduling the tests across multiple threads and multiple processors, and randomizing the control flow to verify the full range of realistic use-case scenarios. We have shown over the last two posts that both the first and second layers can be defined easily by a simple application programming interface (API) providing access to a base-class library. This library includes the basic building blocks needed for a directed or automated test as well as scheduling control for processors, threads, and resources. It is natural to wonder whether the randomization layer can be handled in a similar way.
Last week, we continued our series of posts on the topic of “portable stimulus” as defined by Accellera’s Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) and the standard they are working to define. We should say “we are working to define” since Breker is very much a part of the effort and is providing our many years of experience in this area to develop the best possible industry solution. As a reminder, we at Breker split the definition of a standard for portable stimulus into three parts: defining the tests using abstract primitive operations, scheduling the tests across multiple threads and multiple processors, and randomizing the control flow to verify the full range of realistic use-case scenarios.
Our most recent post dealt with the first layer: defining abstract tests using primitive operations and other elements within a base-class library, with access defined by a simple application programming interface (API). This week we consider the second layer: scheduling of tests and resources. If a verification engineer is writing a directed test for a single-processor SoC using the API calls from the first layer, then little of the second layer may apply. However, as we have discussed before, there is a clear trend of SoC designs moving to multi-processor designs with complex memory and cache subsystems and a rich variety of I/O protocols. These chips require automated test generation and the features provided by the test scheduling layer.
From the number of blog views, it’s clear that the topic of “portable stimulus” is of considerable interest to our readers. As a reminder, Accellera’s Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) is developing a standard in this area and Breker is helping to lead this effort. In our last two posts on this topic, we have outlined our guiding principles for any proposed standard, based on our own experience over the years with our most advanced customers. We also split the goal of the portable stimulus effort into three parts: defining the tests using abstract primitive operations, scheduling the tests across multiple threads and multiple processors, and randomizing the control flow to verify the full range of realistic use-case scenarios.
For this post, we’re going to explore the first level in more detail. We made the statement in our last post that the test abstraction level can be standardized using a simple application programming interface (API) to specify the abstract steps of the test. The API defines the access to a base-class library providing the primitive operations used to create portable tests. First of all, let’s be clear that this is not a theoretical proposal. We have provided a library with a defined API for several years and this is a key building block of our own portable stimulus and test solution. We know that this approach works from our own customers and believe that it would be an excellent foundation for a standard.
In our last blog post we provided some updates on the ongoing effort by Accellera to standardize “portable stimulus” in its Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG). We mentioned our three guiding precepts as we participate in, and help lead, this industry effort:
- Portable stimulus is not enough; portable tests must encompass stimulus, results checking, and coverage
- Test portability must encompass both vertical reuse from IP to SoC and horizontal reuse across all verification platforms
- The tests themselves are not portable, but are generated for multiple targets from an abstract specification of the verification space
We stated our view that the goal of the portable stimulus effort can be split into three parts: defining the tests using abstract primitive operations, scheduling the tests across multiple threads and multiple processors, and randomizing the control flow to verify the full range of realistic use-case scenarios. We mentioned that the first part can be can be standardized using a simple application programming interface (API) to specify the abstract steps of the test. We have also found that the scheduling part can be handled by an expanded API. The user might want to specify the available resources and how they should be used in a particular test, for example, the number of threads running on each processor. When it comes to the third part, the randomization, an API might be feasible but there a number of candidate formats. We’d like to spend the remainder of this post examining these options.
We’ve discussed at some length in past blog posts the recent effort by Accellera to standardize “portable stimulus” in its Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG). As a reminder, this group has been chartered by Accellera to “develop the electronic industry’s first standard for portable test and stimulus. When completed and adopted, this standard will enable a single specification that will be portable from IP to full system and across multiple target implementations.” At trade shows and customer meetings, we’re often asked to explain more about what the concept of portable stimulus means and how it relates to our products. We’ve also been asked for details on the workings of the PSWG and what is likely to happen in terms of a possible standard.
Let us be clear that neither this post nor future posts will reveal the inner workings of the PSWG or share non-public information. We believe strongly that standards bodies must do their jobs with a minimum of distraction. Members must be able to propose and discuss ideas that might seem crazy to those not actually doing the work and without the proper context. There are also IP rights and patent implications to some portions of the standardization process. So this won’t be a “kiss and tell” opportunity. If you want to know what’s happening on the standard right now, we invite your company to join Accellera and contribute a member of two to the PSWG. But for this post, we will take this opportunity to provide some background on the portable stimulus arena and share what we think is important.