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 The Breker Trekker

Posts Tagged ‘VIP’

Some Thoughts on SIPs, VIPs, and SMIPs

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.


If Your Chip Is Not an SoC, It Soon Will Be

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Last week’s post was addressed primarily to those of you who are already designing SoCs. We made the point that more and more SoCs have multiple processors, either homogenous or heterogeneous, and that most or all of those processors do or will have caches. This led to the main conclusions of the post, that multi-processor cache coherency is necessary for most SoCs, and therefore that coherency is now a problem extending beyond CPU developers to many chip-level verification teams.

But what if you don’t have embedded processors in your design? There’s a clear sense emerging in the industry that more and more types of chips are becoming multi-processor SoCs, and most of these will require cache coherency for the CPU clusters and beyond. In this post we’ll describe the trends we see, based in part on what we learned at the recent Linley Processor Conference in Santa Clara. The world as we know it is changing rapidly, offering more challenges for verification teams but more opportunities for us to help.


If Your SoC Is Not Cache Coherent, It Soon Will Be

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

In last week’s post, we discussed in detail how Breker’s TrekSoC and TrekSoC-Si products can verify the performance of your SoC by stressing every aspect of its functionality. Shortly before that, we announced a partnership with Carbon Design Systems to complement their fast, accurate processor models with TrekSoC. About two months ago, we introduced the new Coherency TrekApp and described how it can verify multi-processor cache coherency with minimal effort.

You can see a strong theme here: multi-processor SoC designs, fast simulation models, automatic generation of multi-threaded, multi-processor test cases, and test cases powerful enough to gather realistic performance metrics from pre-silicon simulation. But what if you don’t have multiple processors or caches in your SoC design? There’s a clear sense emerging in the industry that more and more chips are becoming multi-processor SoCs, and most of these will require cache coherency for the CPU clusters and beyond. Let’s explore this topic more in this post.


Report from the Silicon Valley IP Users Conference

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

I spent Tuesday of this week in the Winchester Mystery House, San Jose’s best-known tourist attraction, hearing a wide variety of opinions about design IP, verification IP (VIP), the Internet of Things (IoT), and related topics. “Unlock the Mystery of IP: Silicon Valley IP Users Conference” was organized and presented by IPextreme and their Constellations program partners. I found most of the talks quite interesting, and would like to share some thoughts on what the experts’ projections might mean for Breker and our customers.

There is no doubt that the increasing use of IP is key to designing ever larger chips. Kands Manickam of IPextreme noted that, over the next five years, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of IP blocks and subsystems is expected to be 12% versus 3.5% for semiconductors. Randy Smith of Sonics reported that the average large chip today has about 120 blocks, growing to more than 200 by 2018. We already know that VIP reuse is not as effective as design IP reuse, and these projections will only exacerbate the gap.


Please Visit Us at SNUG Silicon Valley Next Monday

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Perhaps by now you’re tired of reading about DVCon, but our last few posts have drawn very good readership so we know that the show is important to the verification-minded engineers who read The Breker Trekker. Another show, or more accurately a series of shows, has strong verification content and draws well from the verification community. We’re talking about the series of Synopsys Users Group (SNUG) events held worldwide to much acclaim from attendees and participating vendors.

According to the SNUG site, Synopsys has 13 shows scheduled annually in Asia, Europe, and North America, drawing nearly 9000 users. That’s a very impressive series of events by any measure and a sign that the EDA market leader invests heavily in educating its users and providing a forum where they can interact among themselves and with Synopsys technical experts. Next week is the 2014 edition of SNUG Silicon Valley, and we want you to know that Breker will be there.


More on the UVM: Processor or Verification Component?

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Our last post on the relationship between the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) and Breker’s technology was very popular. In only a week, it has become the fifth-most-read post in the nine-month history of The Breker Trekker blog. Clearly people are interested in the UVM and what strengths and weaknesses it brings to the ever more complex world of SoC verification.

This week we’d like to continue the discussion with a topic that we did not address last week: how the UVM offers an alternative to running embedded code by replacing one or more of the processors in the SoC with a verification component (VC). Our CEO, Adnan Hamid, addressed this topic in an Electronic Design article last November.  We’d like to revisit some of the key points of that article in the context of last week’s UVM discussion


We Like the UVM, Really We Do!

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

When people first start reading about Breker and what we do, we make the point that transactional simulation testbenches are breaking down at the full-SoC level. Usually, we specifically mention the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) standard from Accellera as not being up to the challenge of full-chip verification for SoC designs. We sometimes worry that someone will read into this that we don’t like the UVM, or Accellera, or even standards in general. Nothing could be further from the truth!

We have great respect for the UVM and other EDA-related standards developed by Accellera, IEEE, and other organizations. In this post, we’d like to discuss specifically what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of the UVM and explain how Breker’s technology complements rather than replaces this methodology. Yes, the UVM has limitations, and we address those with our tools and technologies. But the UVM forms a stable and standard base on which nearly all of our customers build their simulation-based verification environments.


Top 5 Holiday Gifts for the Verification Engineer

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Please allow me to start this post with a sincere wish for all of our readers to have a happy and healthy holiday season. There are many enjoyable activities both sacred and secular this time of year, something for everyone whatever your personal beliefs. I hope that you all have the chance to relax a bit and share some delicious food with family and friends.

I thought about writing a column on the top 5 holiday wishes for verification engineers, but I felt that it would be a bit presumptuous to speak for you. We do work very hard to understand what you need in order to tailor our products to gaps in your verification process and speed up your project. Therefore, I’m going to offer 5 gifts for you, the verification engineer, that are available with Breker’s products. I hope that you like them!


TrekSoC-Si: Achieving the Longstanding Goal of Horizontal Verification Reuse

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

All of us at Breker are excited as we write this post, since we’ve just made our most important product announcement in several years. We’ve expanded the Breker product line by adding TrekSoC-Si, a brand-new tool that generates multi-threaded, multi-processor, self-verifying C test cases for in-circuit emulation (ICE), FPGA-based prototypes, and actual production silicon. In other words, TrekSoC-Si does for hardware platforms what TrekSoC did for simulation.

We’ll talk more about how TrekSoC-Si works in a moment. But first it’s important to note that both TrekSoC and TrekSoC-Si use the same graph-based scenario models as input to describe the intended behavior of the SoC and provide a test plan. This means that, for the first time in the industry, you can achieve horizontal verification reuse across your entire project schedule, from high-level simulation models all the way through your first chips arriving from the foundry.


TrekSoC: Achieving the Longstanding Goal of Vertical Verification Reuse

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

One of the curious aspects of electronics is that most products are specified from the top down but implemented and verified from the bottom up. This is true for system-on-chip (SoC) development as well. As the onset, someone in product marketing specifies a chip that has a specific collection of functionality to meet a specific customer need. The architecture team develops a block diagram that defines the subsystems and perhaps some individual IP blocks as well.

When it comes time to develop the RTL that implements the SoC, designers tend to work from  the IP blocks upward. They select commercial IP where it makes sense and develop unique IP when needed. Designers are usually responsible for verifying their own blocks, perhaps with some assistance from verification engineers. There is usually minimal verification of commercial IP unless it has been customized for the SoC project.


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