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 ‘TrekSoC-Si’
When we first began offering our Trek family of products for what’s now known as portable stimulus, we talked a lot about vertical and horizontal reuse. Vertical reuse means that you can create a scenario model for individual IP blocks and generate test cases to run in their UVM testbenches, then move up to clusters and subsystems. The IP models can simply be plugged together to form a higher-level model from which appropriate higher-level test cases can be generated.
At the full-SoC level, you can generate C test cases that run on your embedded processors. Horizontal reuse is the ability to move from simulation to hardware (acceleration/emulation, FPGA prototypes, and silicon) while generating appropriate tests for these platforms from the same SoC scenario model. We generally described both forms of reuse in a unidirectional flow. However, bidirectionality is very valuable and, we believe, essential for portable stimulus. Let’s cover that topic in today’s blog post.
Recently, SemiconductorEngineering published the three–part series “System-Level Verification Tackles New Role” as part of its ongoing “Experts at the Table” discussions. The format is simple–an editor sits down with four or five industry experts to discuss a particular topic–but the debate can be lively and the result educational. Breker participates in these roundtables as often as we can, focusing of course on verification among the many technical topics covered by the site.
In advertising a “new role” for system-level verification, this particular series was not overstating the case. We tend to talk a lot about the evolution of verification in general, especially for system-on-chip (SoC) devices and multi-SoC systems. But in some ways what is happening now with our products and the Accellera portable stimulus standardization effort is more revolutionary than evolutionary. So which is it? We’ll attempt to answer that question in today’s post here on The Breker Trekker blog.
Over the more than three years of posts here on The Breker Trekker blog, you’ve seen us reference our TrekBox runtime component on many occasions. We mention it in many contexts: test case visualization, memory usage visualization, test case status, test case debugging, system-level coverage, performance analysis, I/O interfacing, UVM testbench control, and more. We’ve never had a post on TrekBox itself, so today we rectify that and fill in a few details that we haven’t discussed before.
Some of you are familiar with the term “trickbox” in the context of a simulation testbench. We found a nice concise definition of this term in an ARM patent: “Memory mapped (behavioral) test bench component to facilitate verification.” By writing to designated memory addresses, the processors in the design being verified can send messages to the testbench for various actions. Our TrekBox is of course a play on the “trickbox” name, and it provides many presents inside for those who open it.
We have a saying here at Breker that the fundamental job of any EDA company in the functional verification space is to “find more bugs, more quickly.” A good verification solution increases design quality by finding more bugs, improves time to market by closing verification faster, or reduces project cost by requiring fewer resources. A great verification solution, which we strive to offer, does all three. Accordingly, we talk a lot about the type of design bugs we can find with less time and effort than traditional methods.
We have another saying at Breker: “A performance shortfall is a functional bug.” A lot of people differentiate between these two cases, but we don’t agree. The specification for your SoC describes its performance goals as well as its functionality. Not meeting your requirements for latency or throughout can render your SoC unsellable just as surely as a broken feature. So we also talk a lot about how our portable stimulus techniques generate test cases for performance verification.
We’ve just returned from our most important trade show of the year: the Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) in San Jose. Sure, DAC is a bigger show, but it covers all of EDA and so lacks the front-end digital focus of DVCon. We previewed the event over our last few blog posts and today we’d like to summarize what happened and make a prediction or two about how this particular DVCon will affect the industry.
The biggest news for us was that portable stimulus seemed to be on everyone’s lips this year. Many of the engineers who stopped by to visit our booth had heard the term and were aware that the Accellera Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) is developing a standard. If they didn’t know what portable stimulus was, they almost surely knew by the end of the show.
We hope that the title of this blog post piqued your interest, because we don’t believe that we’ve seen anyone anywhere claiming to do automated multi-SoC verification at this level. Two weeks ago, we previewed next week’s Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) in San Jose. We highlighted one particular talk being co-presented by Breker and Cavium on “Using Portable Stimulus to Verify Cache Coherency in a Many-Core SoC” in the 9:00-10:30 a.m. session on Tuesday, March 1.
We teased you with the statement that this talk will describe “generating test cases for a multi-SoC configuration with well over 100 cores” and it’s time to tell you a bit more now that we have issued a press release on our project with Cavium. Of course, we need to reserve some of the details for the paper in the DVCon proceedings and the talk itself so that new material is being presented at the conference. We heartily encourage you at attend the show and hear for yourself.
In last week’s post, we provided a preview of the program at the annual Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) in San Jose, coming up in ten days. We mentioned some of the interesting talks and other activities there, and focused in particular on “Using Portable Stimulus to Verify Cache Coherency in a Many-Core SoC” on Tuesday morning. The paper for this session was co-authored by Breker and Cavium, and both companies will present together at DVCon.
The paper and presentation describe the use of our Cache Coherency TrekApp and TrekSoC-Si to automatically generate self-checking, portable test cases for more than 100 CPU cores in a multi-SoC configuration in the Cavium bring-up lab. To set the stage for this story, today we’d like to revisit some of the reasons why cache coherency is so hard to verify and why an automated approach is the best solution.
Regular readers of The Breker Trekker know that we like to preview, review, and dissect technical conferences and trade shows that are of interest to verification engineers. Perhaps the conference we’ve covered the most has been the annual Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) in San Jose. As far as we know, this is the biggest event anywhere focused on digital and system design and verification, a nice complement to the analog-ish DesignCon.
As a matter of fact, DVCon has become so successful that there are now regional conferences in India and Europe in addition to the U.S. show. We’ve strongly supported DVCon India, including serving for all three years on the Promotions Committee, and have participated in DVCon Europe as well. But those are a bit in the future; DVCon (U.S.) 2016 is coming up in a just a few weeks. The program is online now, so we thought we’d review it and suggest some sessions of possible interest.
For more than four years now, Breker has branded itself as “The SoC Verification Company” and many people acknowledge our expertise in this domain. As we have discussed before on The Breker Trekker, our initial products focused on generating purely transactional tests for a simulation testbench, usually compliant with the Accellera Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) standard. When we extended our products to generate C code that runs on the embedded processors found within SoCs, we delivered on our “tagline” promise.
Since our early focus on simulating an SoC, we have expanded our technology and our product line to generate C test cases that run on embedded processors in emulation, FPGA prototypes, and actual silicon in the bring-up lab. In talking about what we do, we struggle to choose between “SoC” and “system” since for many of our customers the terms are synonymous. But we also have users verifying multi-SoC systems, and today we’d like to address that topic.