Posts Tagged ‘reuse’
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.
Wednesday, December 30th, 2015
It’s becoming somewhat of a tradition here on The Breker Trekker blog to close each year with a list of gifts available from us to verification engineers. We started the series two years ago with an initial list focusing on our core benefits of automatic test case generation, system coverage, and reuse both vertically (IP to system) and horizontally (simulation to silicon). Last year’s post offered five more gifts reflecting additional products and new features added to our overall solution:
#5: Easier sequence specification in UVM testbenches.
#4: Faster coverage closure in UVM testbenches.
#3: Integration of system coverage with other coverage metrics.
#2: Debug of automatic test cases using standard tools.
#1: A fully automated solution for cache coherency verification.
Every one of the ten gifts from 2013 and 2014 is still available today for our customers. In addition, we have continued to evolve our Trek family of products and to deploy it on ever more challenging SoC verification projects. Without further ado, here is our all-new list of holiday gifts for the verification engineer in 2015:
Tuesday, December 30th, 2014
Last year, we wound up in December with a post on the “Top 5 Holiday Gifts for the Verification Engineer” and it proved very popular despite the holiday timing. To refresh your memory (and ours), here is the 2013 list:
#5: Relief from hand-writing verification test code.
#4: Relief from hand-writing validation diagnostics.
#3: Vertical verification IP reuse from block to system.
#2: Horizontal verification IP reuse from electronic system level (ESL) to silicon.
#1: Effortless system coverage reflecting end-use applications.
As you might expect, every one of these gifts is still available today for users of our Trek family of products. But over the last year we have added two new products, many new features, and deeper integration into existing verification flows. So we’d like to wrap up 2014 with an all-new list of holiday gifts for the verification engineer. We hope you like them as much as you liked last year’s offerings:
Thursday, December 11th, 2014
Few electronics-related topics have been more widely discussed in the past year or so than the prospects for the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), sometimes called the Internet of Everything (IoE). Hardware and software vendors have been falling all over themselves trying to ride the presumed IoT juggernaut. EDA has not been immune. In its roundup of attendee feedback from this year’s Design Automation Conference (DAC), the DeepChip site quoted a user saying, “The ubiquity of IoT. After 6 hours into DAC, I was ready to slap the next vendor who used that buzzword.”
The trumpeting of IoT was even greater at ARM TechCon, not surprising because of its focus on embedded systems. Here at Breker, we’ve used the term sparingly because it’s not really clear exactly what the IoT will become. Certainly there will be many more nodes of all sorts connected to the Internet in coming years, but there are numerous open questions. Our main interest is whether the IoT will result in an explosion of new SoC designs, and hence a broader market for our verification solutions. This blog post doesn’t provide a firm answer since none is possible yet, but it’s a topic worth addressing.
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
This blog focuses mostly on verification, but from time to time we like to take a look at other aspects of the EDA industry. Today we’d like to discuss high-level synthesis (HLS), its progress and status, and what’s keeping it from being a mainstream technology used for every chip design. It turns out that this topic has a lot to do with verification, so we’re not straying too far from our primary focus.
To start, let’s define what we mean by HLS in contrast to the mainstream technology of logic synthesis. Generating gates from a hardware description language (HDL) moved from a research problem to viable products around 1988. The ultimate winner among several promising companies was Synopsys, in part because they chose a register-transfer level (RTL) subset of the popular Verilog HDL as their input format. Their tools generated a gate-level netlist using the cells available in an ASIC vendor’s library.
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
In last week’s blog post, we talked about the emergence of the commercial IP industry and shared some personal experiences. Although Breker is an EDA company and not known for IP products, we intersect with semiconductor IP (SIP) and verification IP (VIP) in important ways as we work with our customers. We’re also starting to offer our own scenario model IP (SMIP) as part of accelerating and improving verification even more. We’d like to expand on these topics in today’s post.
We have few if any customers or prospective customers who don’t use commercial VIP in their testbenches. After all, if you’re designing a standard interface you want the best verification possible that you’re meeting the standard. A VIP model that’s been used by dozens or hundreds of other projects serves as a pre-silicon “plugfest” where you get to verify your implementation of the standard against what others have done. Now that the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) is nearly ubiquitous, most VIP is developed in a fairly consistent manner.
Thursday, November 13th, 2014
In my recent report from the Silicon Valley IP Users Conference, I passed on the prediction that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of semiconductor (SIP) is expected to be 12% for the next five years. Clearly there is a growing need for portions of huge SoCs to be pre-designed, pre-verified, and delivered as reusable SIP. This is a trend that started about 20 years ago with the earliest SIP vendors selling libraries and cores for standardized functions along with verification IP (VIP) to support their use.
The IP (SIP and VIP) industry has evolved a lot since then. The most obvious change is that it has been largely consumed by the major EDA companies. Synopsys and Cadence, in particular, have made many acquisitions in this space over the past few years. Some of the price tags have been quite impressive: US$380M for Tensilica, US$315M for Virage, and about the same price for Denali. In this post, I’d like to share some thoughts on the evolution of the IP business.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
For those unfamiliar with the expression in the title, bringing someone (or something) to its knees means making it submissive. It’s a metaphor possibly derived from the act of hitting someone so hard that his knees buckle and he falls to a kneeling position. Why such a nasty term to start this post? Because when you want to verify the performance of your SoC you want to stress every aspect of it. You want to be mean to it. You want to bring it to its knees.
The most common way to do this is to run production software (operating systems plus applications) on a virtual prototype, a high-level system model created by architects before RTL implementation begins. This is not easy; it takes effort to set up workloads that will stress the design and often production software is not ready at this early stage of the SoC project. Further, this verifies only the high-level model, but RTL simulates too slowly to replicate the same tests, or often to boot the operating system at all.
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
One of the many challenges faced by small software companies is evolving their product lines in ways that make sense. New products must mesh with existing products so that customers can quickly understand what they might want. Products must be differentiated enough to stand separately, yet should leverage some of the same technology and expertise. Small companies have limited resources and it’s usually a mistake to develop multiple unrelated products requiring separate engineering teams.
Breker is no exception; we have a bunch of smart people with lots of ideas about how graphs can be applied to a wide range of problems. However, by focusing on the functional verification of large, complex chips using graph-based scenario models we are able to target a fairly specific group of companies and users. We also get tremendous productivity from a small R&D team because their collective knowledge spans the limited but important product range that we cover. This blog post is an attempt to describe that range more precisely.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Three weeks ago, we introduced our TrekUVM product, a solution for automatically generating test cases to improve coverage of chips in transactional testbenches. We don’t sit still for long at Breker; today we’re introducing the first of a series of TrekApp (application) products that will address specific problems in the verification of SoCs and other large designs. The term “app” is well-known from smartphones and tablets, but also used more and more in EDA.
Apps are attractive for several reasons. They provide turnkey access to new technologies without the user having to become an expert. They solve problems that are well established as project bottlenecks, so a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis tend to be easy. They provide immediate value to the project team, reducing the cost of deployment and increasing the ROI. For SoC verification, we’ve chosen cache coherency as the first app to make available.