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 The Breker Trekker

Posts Tagged ‘portable stimulus’

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.

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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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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.

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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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Sage Advice for Startups

Friday, October 16th, 2015

We’re coming up to the two-and-a-half-year anniversary for The Breker Trekker, with 124 published posts. Initially I promised a post every other week, but after looking at the viewing patterns I quickly realized that I had to publish every week to establish a consistent audience. There’s always something to talk about in this fast-paced world, whether something new at Breker, standards activity, observations about the EDA industry, or analysis of the customers who drive our business.

Today I’d to acknowledge a second Breker blog that has actually been around longer than this one. Just over three years ago, Breker board of directors member Michel Courtoy started a series of posts in Electronic Engineering Times to offer advice to startups. He has published 28 such posts, and has covered an amazing amount of territory. I suppose that I should have done some “cross-promotion” earlier, but at this point I would like to highlight some of Michel’s sage advice. (more…)

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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There Is No Silver Bullet for Low-Power Verification

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Anyone who reads The Breker Trekker from time to time needs no convincing from me that verification is a huge challenge for today’s complex chips. Breker’s Trek family of products exists, along with dozens if not hundreds of other EDA products, specifically to address functional verification. There are more technologies, tools, platforms, libraries, and methodologies than any one verification engineer can possibly learn and use on a day-to-day basis.

Why this diversity of solutions? As I first observed in Electronic Engineering Times nearly a decade ago, there is no silver bullet for verification. The problem is both so broad and so deep that no single tool or technology will ever satisfy the need. It takes a mix of solutions, guided by methodologies, to have any chance of first-silicon success. Low-power verification is an area where this is especially true, and unfortunately there is no silver bullet to be found here either.

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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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Life on the Embedded-EDA Frontier

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

A month ago, our blog post on The Breker Trekker concerned life on the hardware-software frontier. We discussed the ever-shifting line between hardware and software and how we at Breker seem to be straddling that line as we generate embedded C/C++ test cases for hardware verification. Yesterday we published an article on the ongoing merger between the worlds of embedded systems and EDA. We made a number of observations about how the two industries are drawing closer together.

We didn’t talk about Breker in yesterday’s article, but today we’d like to connect these two threads and talk about how we are now straddling the increasingly fuzzy line between embedded and EDA verification. This is a topic we’ve discussed internally from time to time, and we have taken some steps into the embedded world by exhibiting at ARM TechCon and publishing articles in magazine and on sites geared toward embedded designers and programmers.

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