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’
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 wrapped up the 53rd annual Design Automation Conference (DAC), held for just the second time in Austin. As we mentioned in our show preview last week, Breker was founded in Austin so it’s always nice to return to our roots. With its live music, countless good BBQ joints, and sense of history, Austin is always a fun place to visit. The city has a large high-tech workforce, so we expected crowds similar to those in San Francisco or San Diego.
To be honest, the exhibition floor looked rather quiet at times. With the wide aisles and many attendees clustered around the Big Three EDA vendors and those booths with entertainment or giveaways, other parts of the floor seemed forgotten. Fortunately, our booth was on the major cross aisle and we had the industry momentum around portable stimulus in our favor, so we had a very good show. We’ll discuss our results as we fill in a few highlights from the four days we were there.
The Design Automation Conference (DAC) us nearly upon us once again, this year returning to Austin in just a few days. The first-ever DAC in Austin was held three years ago and it was by all accounts a really good show. It was nice seeing new faces who could carve out an afternoon to visit the exhibit floor but who couldn’t get permission to travel when DAC is elsewhere. We were very pleased by both the number of people who stopped by our booth and their level of interest in what we do.
As you may know, Breker was born in Austin and so it will be a bit of a homecoming for us to return again. Austin features many fun activities, especially musical in nature, and great BBQ restaurants. We’ll be glad to provide suggestions and pointers for these if you ask, but for today’s post we’d like to fill you in what we will be doing at the show this year. We welcome any comments or questions that you may have.
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:
The long-established trade association EDA Consortium (EDAC) has started several new initiatives to extend its membership to IP suppliers and to offer more value to its members through new programs. New EDAC Director Bob Smith has a bunch of innovative ideas and I have little doubt that they will breathe new life into the organization. I had the pleasure of working with Bob when he did some consulting for Breker several years ago, and he’s a true professional.
Last week I attended the first in a series of legal-themed events sponsored by EDAC. I expected that the title “Patents and Patent Litigation: Develop, Strengthen, and Protect Your Intellectual Property” would draw well, and indeed the conference room at SEMI Global Headquarters in San Jose was packed. I won’t attempt to cover the wide range of topics addressed, but I would like to hit a few highlights from the panel discussion and the excellent questions from the moderator and the audience.
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.