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 The Breker Trekker

Posts Tagged ‘IP’

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.

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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.

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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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What’s so Special about Your SoC Design Data?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Last week on The Breker Trekker, we discussed the resurgence of interest in EDA tools in the cloud. Like our first post on the topic two year’s ago, last week’s entry was very popular. Clearly this is a topic of interest to both our regular and occasional readers. Two more announcements regarding EDA in the cloud also surfaced during the recent Design Automation Conference (DAC), so it does seem as if there is more effort going toward finding a technically and financially successful industry solution.

Last week we summarized five barriers that have helped prevent cloud-based EDA from achieving mainstream adoption:

  • The EDA vendor’s effort to port to a cloud-based platform
  • Worries about GUI and interactive responsiveness
  • Ability to support users of cloud-based tools
  • Lack of an established, proven business model
  • Concerns over security of the design and verification data in the cloud

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Is the Forecast Cloudy Yet for EDA?

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

It has been almost exactly two years since we discussed the possibility of EDA tools in the cloud here on The Breker Trekker. The post was popular then, and it remains so. In fact, of the more than 100 posts we’ve published, our cloud post remains the second most read. This week, the recent news that IBM will make its EDA tools available in the cloud through a partnership with SiCAD brought cloud computing back to the forefront. Let’s discuss what has changed–and what hasn’t–in the past two years.

The idea of users being able to run EDA tools as leased enterprise software on remote machines has been around for years, well before the term “the cloud” was widely used. Synopsys invested a great deal of time and effort into its DesignSphere infrastructure, initially more of a grid application than a cloud solution as we use the term today. But the difference is not very important; the key concepts are the same and they represent a major departure from the time-tested model of customers “owning” EDA tools and running them in-house.

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Please Help Us Choose Our Next TrekApp

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

As we have discussed before, we have followed the lead of other EDA vendors by packaging aspects of our advanced verification technologies into pushbutton applications (apps). The first in this product line, our Cache Coherency TrekApp, has been very popular since its introduction last year. As we have covered in depth, this is due in part to the trend of large chips becoming multiprocessor SoCs with multi-level caches. The sudden escalation of cache coherency verification from the CPU developer to the system integrator created strong demand for our nicely bundled solution.

There are many other trends ongoing and emerging in the SoC industry, and we have a long list of ideas for possible TrekApps to help address the challenges that are arising. We would like your help in prioritizing our development efforts. We have established a survey listing ten TrekApps under consideration. Please simply check off the ones of most interest to you by midnight Pacific time on June 30. All submissions will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon.com gift card.

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It Was a Great DVCon, and There Are Two More to Come

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

In last week’s blog post on The Breker Treker we previewed this week’s Design and Verification Conference (DVCon) in San Jose, the leading industry event for verification professionals. We had a really good time there, finishing up just this afternoon. We always enjoy DVCon, but this week was even more fun than usual. We met attendees from an amazing range of companies designing SoCs, from simple microcontrollers to some of the largest FPGAs and custom chips on the planet.

Three aspects of the show really stood out: intense interest in cache coherency verification, considerable curiosity about the Accellera Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG), and the number of people who started the conversation with “I’ve heard good things about Breker from a colleague” or “I was told that I really need to check you out.” Let’s discuss what each of these trends means for the industry and speculate about the impact on Breker.

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The Importance of DVCon and Why Breker Will Be There

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Most of the time when we blog about upcoming conferences, report live from an ongoing show, or summarize one that’s just finished, we see a significant spike in readership. Clearly our followers want to keep up with what’s happening in trade shows, conferences, and other industry events. It may also be the case that tighter travel budgets have reduced the ability to attend conferences in person, driving all the more interest in reading the news from the field. A few weeks ago, we discussed DesignCon and explained how it had evolved to include almost no verification content.

Next week is the annual Design and Verification Conference (DVCon) in San Jose, an event that we have covered in considerable detail in several popular posts in the past. As we have discussed, this conference has become the main way to keep up on what’s happening in the ever-changing world of functional verification. We encourage you to check out their Web site and the complete program. The topics include the UVM, SystemVerilog, SystemC, code generation, multi-language, mixed-signal, formal techniques, coverage metrics, and low-power verification.

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The Evolution of DesignCon and Why Breker Isn’t There

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

One of the most popular posts in the history of The Breker Trekker was one discussing which conferences were most useful for verification engineers. I mentioned that Breker exhibited at the annual Design and Verification Conference (DVCon) in San Jose, and we’ve since published several popular posts about that show. It remains the most important event for us, our customers, and the functional verification industry in general. We will be there again in March, and will provide more information in an upcoming post.

I also mentioned the DesignCon show, held annually in Santa Clara, but did not list it among those that we attend. I always go and walk the floor for an hour or two to say hello to old friends and to see what’s new. However, Breker does not exhibit at this show and is highly unlikely to do so unless there are significant changes in its focus and attendance. This is not a criticism of the show, just an observation. Since DesignCon is happening this week, I thought that it might be fun to review its history and how it has changed.

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Blast from the Past: Verification in Silicon

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Late last year, we published a series of blog posts discussing how the world of large chip designs is moving toward multi-processor, cache-coherent SoCs. This trend is due to several sub-trends, including the addition of one or more processors, the growth in number of processors, the use of shared memory, and the addition of caches to improve memory performance. The result of this movement is clear: large chips are becoming more difficult to verify than ever.

Verification teams face challenges at every turn. It’s hard to run a complete SoC-level model in simulation, especially if the team wants to boot an operating system and run production applications. This may be feasible in emulation or FPGA prototyping platforms, but these cost a lot of money. What we’re starting to see is the truly stunning trend that some teams are taping out SoCs without ever having run the entire design together. This means that full-chip verification and debug isn’t happening until first silicon is in the lab. Let’s explore why this is happening.

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