EDACafe Weekly Review November 27th, 2014

The Evolution of RTL Lint
November 27, 2014  by Dr. Pranav Ashar

This article was originally published on TechDesignForums and is reproduced here by permission.

It’s tempting to see lint in the simplest terms: ‘I run these tools to check that my RTL code is good. The tool checks my code against accumulated knowledge, best practices and other fundamental metrics. Then I move on to more detailed analysis.’

It’s an inherent advantage of automation that it allows us to see and define processes in such a straightforward way. It offers control over the complexity of the design flow. We divide and conquer. We know what we are doing.

Yet linting has evolved and continues to do so. It covers more than just code checking. We begun with verifying the ‘how’ of the RTL but we have moved on into the ‘what’ and ‘why’. We use linting today to identify and confirm the intent of the design.

A lint tool, like our own Ascent Lint, is today one of the components of early stage functional verification rather than a precursor to it, as was once the case.

At Real Intent, we have developed this three-stage process for verifying RTL:

DATE 2015: Great Ideas in Grenoble
November 27, 2014  by Peggy Aycinena


A recent early morning phone call to Germany to speak with DATE 2015 General Chair Wolfgang Nebel re-enforced the idea that it’s going to be a lot of fun next March in Grenoble, if your idea of fun is new ideas and exploring frontiers.

Dr. Nebel said the conference is deep into its evolution away from being a pure EDA conference with associated exhibition, and is moving instead towards being a conference focused on applications of embedded systems and microelectronics. DATE 2015 is set to reflect that change by showcasing two special-topic days, one about IoT and one about medical applications.

“This IoT thing’s been around for a long time,” I said impolitely, “but suddenly it’s got a trendy name as if it’s just been discovered. What do you think we’ll be calling it in 5 years?”

Dr. Nebel chuckled and said politely, “That requires one to be very speculative. Perhaps by then, it will be a completely connected world and we won’t need a name at all, the concept will be so ubiquitous?”

I asked which topics would be included in the special day on medical applications.

Dr. Nebel responded, “There will be sessions looking at drivers for health-care innovation in three different areas. The first will be wearable computing for medical applications, meaning sensors that people will carry around with them as part of their clothing or directly attached to their bodies. These devices present challenges of energy supply and other such things. The second area will be implantable devices into the human body, and the third area will be diagnostics supported by medical devices.”

Zuken: Going Meta on Automotive Design
November 26, 2014  by Peggy Aycinena


Things are really heating up in automotive design and innovation. Last week, the Bosch ICCAD keynote about self-driving cars was covered here, and this week it’s Zuken’s latest automotive-related announcement regarding the launch of E3.HarnessAnalyzer and the acquisition of software IP from Intedis.

Per the company: “E3.HarnessAnalyzer complements Zuken’s automotive technology portfolio formed around the E3.series [Electrical wiring, control systems and fluid engineering software] and Cabling Designer. E3.HarnessAnalyzer, based on an existing Intedis product, is a powerful tool for viewing and analyzing harness drawings in the standard HCV container data format, which combines KBL (physical data model) and SVG (vector graphics) data. The tool supports efficient collaboration through powerful analysis, redlining, and version-compare functionality [and] provides ease-of-use for sharing comprehensive harness design models and documents with internal or external project teams.”

When I spoke to Zuken reps in Germany about all of this during a phone call in early November, my first questions were about Bosch, having just heard the ICCAD keynote that week, and Mentor Graphics, a company that’s had a foot in the auto-harness market for many years.

Reinhold Blank, Zuken Business Director for Automotive, responded promptly.

If Your Chip Is Not a Cache-Coherent SoC, It Soon Will Be
November 25, 2014  by Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing

Yes, we know that the title of this week’s post sounds a lot like two previous posts. We wanted to link together the two threads from those posts into a single message that we believe reflects what is happening right now in the world of complex chips. This is a short summary in line with the short week due to the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. The line of argument is straightforward:

  • Large chips are adding embedded processors to implement complex functionality while retaining flexibility
  • Single-processor chips are adding multiprocessor clusters to get better performance at a given process node
  • Multiprocessor chips are using shared memory for effective data transfer and interprocess communication
  • Neighbor-connected processor arrays are moving to shared memory to reduce cross-chip data latency
  • Multiprocessor designs are adding caches to reduce memory access time and bypass memory bottlenecks
  • Multiprocessors with caches require coherency in order to ensure that the right data is always accessed

While most of these statements are not universally true, they reflect a significant sea change that we see every day when discussing current and future projects with our customers.

7 reasons I’m thankful for DAC and EDA
November 22, 2014  by Anne Cirkel

Thanksgiving is here so it’s likely to be a slow week in the EDA industry. Of course, like much else in our culture, this event has been co-opted by rampant media messages to shop and consume. Already I’ve seen lots of stories about Black Friday, mostly discussing whether the whole idea of a 24-hour window is now moot given Cyber Monday and the reality that the holiday shopping season now starts right after Halloween and stretches into January.

As a German I know I must tread lightly when writing about the most American of holidays. Turkey is not all that big on holiday menus back home and as I’ve written about in an earlier EDA Café post, football (or rather fussball) will always mean something different to me, no matter the success of the regional favorite Seahawks or my staff’s obsession with making their weekly fantasy picks. I’ll just say that I’ve grown to like some of the old-fashioned aspects of the holiday (a good meal with friends followed by a hike with the dogs, who demand to get out regardless of the weather). I can’t help but being thankful that EDA is not part of this annual shopping lunacy, at least not directly. Last I looked, the big three EDA vendors aren’t offering holiday-themed sales and I’ve never yet seen a line out the door for a piece of technical software. (That said, DAC attendees have been known to queue up for the free coffee, beer and wine that exhibitors offer almost every day — as I see it, much more reasonable behavior than waiting outside a superstore before it opens.)

Thanks for the memory
November 21, 2014  by Colin Walls

The computer world is often accused of being mired in jargon and I think that is a fair criticism. In some ways it gets worse when an everyday word is “hijacked” to have a new meaning. A good example is “program”, which had several meanings before it was applied to software. Interestingly, in the UK we use the US spelling (“program”) to refer to software, but retain the English version (“programme”) for everything else.

Another re-purposed word is “memory”, which is interesting because it has acquired a number of meanings in a computing context. Historically, the term referred to the place that a program and data resided during execution – it still does have this meaning. But it was also used to refer to bulk storage like disk drives. Even today, when someone tells me how much memory their PC has, I have to make sure that they are not telling me about disk storage. For embedded systems, memory has always been a term with a number of meanings …

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