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Posts Tagged ‘TrekSoC-Si’

Performance Verification: Bringing Your SoC to Its Knees

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.

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Breker and Carbon Team Up to Provide Fast, Accurate SoC Verification

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

This morning, our good friends at Carbon Design Systems announced a new Web portal to provide system-level solutions for system-on-chip (SoC) developers. The Carbon System Exchange provides a wide range of Carbon Performance Analysis Kits (CPAKs), pre-built systems or subsystems with software at the bare metal or operating system level. CPAKs are key building blocks for SoC teams creating complete virtual prototypes for their designs.

Breker is one of nine announced IP and EDA partners who are working with Carbon to create new CPAKs or enhance current offerings. Some partners, such as ARM, Arteris, and Cadence, are providing processor models or other forms of IP commonly found in SoCs. Others, such as Kozio and Breker, are providing software to run on the CPAKs. As you might expect, what we’re actually providing is not a fixed set of software, but rather the ability for CPAK users to generate multi-processor, multi-threaded, self-verifying C test cases.

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A Concise History of the Breker Product Line

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.

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See Breker at Four Shows in Four Locations over Four Weeks

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

What verification engineer doesn’t love the occasional conference? It’s a chance to get out of the cubicle farm, hang out with colleagues from other companies, listen to stimulating technical talks, and catch up on what EDA, IP, and semiconductor vendors have been doing. Even in a time of tight travel budgets, the right conference can provide dividends far beyond its cost. There are a lot of smart people in the electronics industry and it’s valuable to share problems and solutions with them.

There are actually quite a few conferences and trade shows that have interesting verification content and draw significant numbers of verification engineers. One of the most-read posts in the history of The Breker Trekker blog was a discussion on which conferences verification engineers like best. We are constantly evaluating which events provide the most value to us and our customers, and find ourselves in the unusual position of having four shows scheduled in four locations over the next four weeks.

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Cache Coherency? Breker Provides An App for That

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.

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Composition, Chaining, and Vertical Reuse with TrekUVM

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Several posts back, we introduced the idea of “composing” higher-level verification elements from low-level elements with little or no effort. We discussed how this was not possible with traditional testbench elements such as virtual sequencers and scoreboards. We showed that Breker’s graph-based scenario models can be simply combined from the block level to the cluster level, and from the cluster level to the full-chip level.

Last week, we took the unusual step of announcing a new EDA product via social media rather than a traditional press release. The news about TrekUVM clearly spread; we had a nice spike in blog readership and an even bigger spike in traffic to our Web site. Since our readers have interest in this new product, we’d like to continue talking about it and, specifically, show how it fosters model composition and vertical reuse.

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Introducing TrekUVM: Enhancing Transactional UVM Testbenches

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

In our previous four posts, we have woven a story quite different from the way we’ve talked about Breker and our technology for the past few years. Regular readers know that our focus has been on verifying system-on-chip (SoC) designs by generated multi-threaded, self-verifying C test cases to run on the SoC’s embedded processors. TrekSoC generates these test cases for simulation with RTL or ESL models; TrekSoC-Si generates test cases for emulator, FPGA prototypes, and actual silicon.

The last few posts have pointed out that TrekSoC has had to handle running in a transactional testbench since many test cases send data on or off the chip. We’ve worked hard to ensure that we can integrate easily into testbenches compliant with the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) standard. Today we leverage this knowledge as we introduce TrekUVM, which generates multi-threaded, self-verifying test cases for a purely transactional UVM testbench.

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A Fond Farewell to DAC 51 in San Francisco

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

The 51st Design Automation Conference (DAC) has passed into the history books with three days of exhibits and a wide range of enveloping technical sessions and tutorials. After returning home, I’m thinking back over the week fondly as I nurse feet that ache more than I thought possible. Before I get back into the usual work routine, I want to capture some of the impressions and thoughts running through my head.

There is no doubt that  big forces in the industry are aligning toward our view of SoC verification with graph-based scenario models. Many of the people who stopped by our “USS Ice Breker” booth completely understood that they risked hitting an iceberg with their minimal full-chip verification efforts. Some had heard about Breker from colleagues or had seen us listed in Gary Smith’s and John Cooley’s DAC “must see” lists. Others knew little about us but were attracted by our claim as “The SoC Verification Company.” All wanted to know how we can help them.

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DAC is Back! A Preview of the San Francisco Show

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

DAC is back, Jack! The big show returns to San Francisco for two years before heading back to Austin. Last year was a special one for Breker, with our 10th anniversary as a company, the 50th year of DAC, and the first time for the show in Austin, our birthplace. But no location draws more visitors and more buzz than San Francisco. It’s a short train ride from traditional Silicon Valley and arguably part of an extended definition of Silicon Valley that includes a fair chunk of the Bay Area.

This year’s show promises plenty of excitement, and we’d like to fill you in. Of course, we will be there as part of the always lively exhibit floor. Those of you who attended DAC in Austin will surely remember our naval-themed “USS Ice Breker” booth, which we loved so much we’re shipping it to San Francisco. No visit to the DAC exhibits would be complete without stopping by to see Breker in booth 2602 and taking a “cruise” with us. You can request a meeting at a specific time by visiting our DAC signup page.

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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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