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 Agnisys Automation Review

Archive for April, 2022

What’s New and What’s Next in Specification Automation?

Monday, April 25th, 2022

Over the last few months, I’ve primarily shared two kinds of posts on this blog. The Design Automation Conference (DAC) in December and the transition to the New Year prompted me to look back at how much Agnisys has expanded the power and reach of specification automation, a domain that we pioneered more than a decade ago with our register automation solutions. We have found that there are many parts of a system-on-chip (SoC) design that are amenable to automatic generation of hardware, software, testbenches, tests, and documentation from executable specifications.

Of course, we’re never standing still and so I’ve also written posts covering new products and features as we’ve made them available to customers. In some cases, I’ve passed on exciting news such as last month’s announcement that our complete IDesignSpec™ Suite has been certified as compliant to the ISO 26262 and IEC 61508 functional safety standards. I find that this blog is an informal and convenient way to share information I think users will find interesting, and I hope that you feel the same.
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Agnisys – Certified Safe for ISO 26262 Design

Thursday, April 7th, 2022

Agnisys has customers designing all sorts of intellectual property (IP) blocks, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and system-on-chip (SoC) devices across a wide range of industries worldwide. We provide specification automation solutions for registers, sequences, testbenches, assertions, standard IP, block interconnection, documentation, and more. Every chip needs these elements, and every chip can benefit from our products. However, designs for certain applications have additional requirements that are also amenable to specification automation.

Safety-critical designs are a prominent example. There are many applications in which a chip failure could lead to catastrophic results. At a minimum, these designs should detect that something has gone wrong and take a safe course of action. If possible, they should continue to operate normally even after a fault occurs. This is especially important for applications such as satellites where repair or replacement of a failed component is difficult or impossible. It’s easy to think of cases in which safe operation in the presence of a fault is critical, including:

  • Offensive and defensive weapons systems
  • Vehicles for travel over road, track, air, and water
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Industrial applications where humans are at risk
  • Implanted medical devices

For this post, I’d like to focus on road vehicles, especially automobiles. This is the safety-critical application with which everyday users have the most contact. Cars are a particularly challenging environment for electronics, with constant vibration and regular exposure to temperature and humidity extremes. Aging chips can fail, solder joints can break, cables can disconnect, alpha particles can flip memory bits—there’s no shortage of things that can go wrong. Accordingly, in 2011 the industry created a standard to guide the functionally safe design of electrical and electronic systems in road vehicles: ISO 26262.

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