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Posts Tagged ‘simulation’

Six Points of Connectivity with the Synopsys Verification Flow

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

In any industry dominated by a few large companies, it is important for the smaller players to ensure that their products work well with the broader solutions from the majors. Recognizing this need, and sometimes encouraged by legal action, the large companies develop partnership programs to enable and even foster integration with their solutions. All this is true for the EDA business, where the “Big 3″ work closely with many smaller vendors for the sake of their mutual customers.

In Breker’s case, we generate SoC test cases that run on a variety of software and hardware platforms. We do not build any of those platforms ourselves but we need to verify that our test cases can run properly on them. Accordingly, we are members of several important partnership programs and we work closely with other vendors to find and fix any interoperability issues before our customers run into them. In this week’s post, we focus on how we work with Synopsys, the EDA market leader.

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Please Welcome the Accellera Portable Stimulus Working Group

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

As you may have seen this morning, the EDA standards organization Accellera officially announced the formation of the Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG). This group has the charter 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.”

Regular readers will note that this wording sounds very familiar. At Breker, we’ve been talking about vertical reuse from IP to SoC and horizontal reuse across all verification platforms for years. At times we’ve felt like pioneers with arrows in our back. The formation of the PSWG is a validation that we’ve been heading in the right direction. We’re excited to see the industry embracing the challenges of SoC verification and starting to work on a new standard to address these challenges.

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What to Run on Day One in SoC Simulation

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Two recent blog posts discussed what you should run when you first map your system-on-chip (SoC) design into an emulation platform and when you have your first fabricated chips from the foundry in your bring-up lab. We pointed out that trying to boot an operating system and run applications should not be the first step because production software is not designed to find and debug lingering hardware design errors. We recommended running the multi-threaded, multi-processor, self-verifying C test cases generated and optimized for hardware platforms by our TreSoC-Si product.

As you may know, TrekSoC uses the same graph-based scenario models as TrekSoC-Si, but optimizes the generated test cases for virtual prototypes, simulation, and simulation acceleration. In this post, we ask a similar question: what should you run in simulation when you first have the RTL for your SoC assembled and ready to be verified? Of course our answer will be the test cases generated by TrekSoC.  However, there are some advantages of simulation over hardware platforms that foster a more extensive methodology for verification with Breker’s products.

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What to Run on Day One in the Bring-Up Lab

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Last week’s blog post raised the question of what you should run when you first map your system-on-chip (SoC) design into an emulation platform. We pointed out that trying to boot an operating system and applications immediately was a challenge because these are complex pieces of production software not designed to find lingering hardware design errors or to debug such errors easily even if detected. On many projects, the production software isn’t even available early enough to be used for design verification.

We strongly recommended running the multi-threaded, multi-processor, self-verifying C test cases generated by our Trek family of products. These “bare metal” test cases run on your SoC’s embedded processors at every stage of the project. TreSoC-Si specifically generates test cases tuned for emulation and FPGA prototype platforms. But what should you run when your fabricated chip first arrives back from the foundry? The answer is the same. TrekSoC-Si also generates test cases for silicon, ideal for use in your bring-up lab. Let’s explore this idea a bit more.

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What to Run on Day One of Emulation

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Many of you are probably familiar with Lauro Rizzatti, who has written countless articles on the value of emulation for verifying system-on-chip (SoC) designs and been an occasional guest blogger here on The Breker Trekker. Lauro recently published an article in Electronic Engineering Times that really caught our attention. We could not possibly agree more with the title: “A Great Match: SoC Verification & Hardware Emulation” and, as we read through the article, were very pleased with the points he made.

Emulation involves mapping the RTL chip design into a platform that runs much like an actual chip, albeit considerably more slowly. The industry is not always consistent on its terminology, but generally if the platform is connected to a software simulation it’s being used as a simulation accelerator. In this case, the design’s inputs and outputs are connected to the simulation testbench much as they would be when running software simulation of the RTL. In emulation, there’s no simulator or testbench, and so the question becomes what to run on the design.

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Top 5 New Holiday Gifts for the Verification Engineer

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:

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Building a Productive Team for New Verification Approaches

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Last week I used a talk by Vigyan Singhal, CEO of formal consulting experts Oski Technology, as the springboard for a blog post on how to extend verification planning for formal analysis and graph-based SoC verification. This week, I’m using a panel held at that same “Decoding Formal Club” meeting as the starting point for my thoughts on how to establish an effective team to use relatively new verification technologies such as formal and graphs.

The second half of the meeting was a panel on “How to Build a Productive Formal Team” moderated by Harry Foster from Mentor. The participants included a nice mix of users, while Vigyan rounded out the panel with his unique blend of formal tool development and hands-on usage with many customers. Although there wasn’t much controversy per se, it was clear that everyone had different experiences leading to different opinions on how to build a strong formal team.

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April 21, 2014: A-Day for Formal Analysis

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Yesterday may well go down in EDA history as one of the most important days in the evolution of the market for formal analysis. If you had asked me why yesterday morning, I would have said it was because I was attending the third “Decoding Formal Club” meeting sponsored by formal consulting experts Oski Technology. The range of companies represented there, and the enthusiasm for the topic, was a clear indication that formal has become an A-list technology for many verification teams.

So I planned to write today’s post about this meeting. But then, just as it was ending and Oski was thanking all the participants, news broke that Cadence had acquired formal leader Jasper Design Automation for $170M. Of course, this news was of intense interest to the attendees. It made yesterday “Acquisition Day” for formal analysis, so I’ll dub it “A-Day” and provide some thoughts in this post. I will talk a bit about the meeting as well, but will go into more details about the material presented in a future post.

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Ruminating about Accelerating, Emulating, and Prototyping

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Last week I published a commentary on the Electronic Engineering Times site about the recent growth in the hardware emulation market. I noted that hardware-based platforms have become almost as big a market as software simulation and that some industry projections see them becoming dominant over the next few years. Of course, our friends at Jasper are predicting that formal will become the dominant verification technology, so it will be fun watching a three-way race.

For this post, I want to dig a bit deeper on hardware platforms in general. Historically, such platforms have been divided into three categories: simulation acceleration, in-circuit emulation (ICE), and FPGA prototyping. The reality is that these are no longer clearly distinct categories; there is a lot of fuzziness and even some overlap. While the market for all three types of hardware platforms is growing, I find that my observations and opinions vary depending upon which specific solution I’m considering.

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Coverage from Running SoC Silicon? How Is That Possible?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

In our last post, we discussed some details of the demo that we showed at the DVCon and SNUG Silicon Valley events, in which TrekSoC-Si generated a test case, downloaded it into a commercial SoC (a TI OMAP4430 with dual ARM cores), and ran it in the actual chip. Our focus last time was on Breker’s unique visualization for the multi-threaded, multi-processor test cases that we generate. Specifically, we provide the same display for a test case running in silicon as we do for one running in simulation or simulation acceleration.

Even more interesting is our ability to display coverage information for test cases running in silicon. You might think that this is impossible unless we’re building coverage structures into the SoC that you fabricate. Customers have been known to build specific types of coverage metrics into their hardware, for example real-time monitoring of bus bandwidth and SoC performance. But that’s not what we’re doing; we can gather highly accurate system-level overage without changing the design a bit.

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