Dispatches from Boston
Boston-based Nanette Collins is the 2013 recipient of the Marie R. Pistilli Women in EDA Achievement Award, presented annually to an individual who has helped advance women in the EDA industry. She started Nanette V. Collins Marketing and Public Relations in 1994 after working as director of … More »
Breker Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary at 50th DAC
May 31st, 2013 by Nanette Collins
It’s fitting that Breker Verification Systems will celebrate its 10th anniversary during the 50th Design Automation Conference (DAC) in Austin, Texas. That’s because 10 years ago Breker was founded in Austin. And, while the corporate headquarters moved to Silicon Valley two years ago, its roots are firmly planted in Austin. Rick Nordin, vice president of business development, remains in the cultural epicenter of Texas taking care of business there. After all, Austin chip development teams have loads of verification issues.
Breker’s new corporate headquarters now sits firmly in the epicenter of Silicon Valley, San Jose, Calif., also a hot spot for verification and perfect for the kind of EDA software Breker produces –– SoC verification. That is, software to rigorously test the entire chip design, not just its individual pieces stitched together. In fact, Breker is defining and building SoC verification as a new verification category.
While some skeptics may question the necessity of this extra verification step, companies such as NVIDIA wouldn’t consider a verification strategy without it. After all, a stitch and ship strategy will sink a chip. We’ll get to more of that later in our profile.
Co-founders Adnan Hamid and Maheen Hamid are a husband and wife team. Adnan is chief executive officer, visionary and chief technologist, while Maheen is chief financial officer, who is serving as chief operating officer as well.
Adnan is often asked about the name Breker. His usual response starts with a hearty laugh. He was given the nickname Breaker in the MBA program at The University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business once his classmates found out he broke things for a living. His expertise is hardware verification and it was Adnan, while working for AMD, who designed an automated test generator to make sure that the AMD microprocessor K7 was fully compatible with Intel’s.
When he and Maheen struck out on their own in 2003, Breaker was the obvious choice for a name, but soon morphed into Breker and the name stuck. Initially, Breker took on verification consulting projects while the software was under development. TrekSoC was launched in 2008 to remove functional verification as the bottleneck for technological innovation and project schedules. It’s an innovative solution that automatically generates self-verifying C test cases to solve complex verification challenges for SoCs containing embedded processors. And, since 2008, Breker’s can point to many successes with project teams as varied as Broadcom and STMicroelectronics, and NVIDIA.
A lot has happened in the two years Breker relocated from Austin to San Jose. For example, it raised $5 million in Series A funding from Astor Capital Group, a private equity firm from Far East Asia. Previously, Breker bootstrapped the company with a small, initial round of angel investment.
Tom Anderson assumed the role of vice president of marketing, joining Adnan, Maheen and Rick on the management team that also includes Dave Johnson, vice president of sales. Special mention should be made that Michel Courtoy, an EDA entrepreneur and verification expert, is an active member of its board of directors and an almost ex-officio company executive.
Stitch and Ship
“Stitch and ship will sink a chip design” is almost a mantra within Breker and well worth exploring a bit more. Being verification experts, the Breker team has seen design teams mistakenly assume that an SoC full of multiple heterogeneous embedded processors will work as intended if individual IP blocks have been verified on their own.
Yikes! They should be thinking like systems integrators. While the IP may have been rigorously tested, cross interactions between the IP can create scenarios where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That leads to system failure in a real-world situation.
Instead, design teams should develop a SoC verification methodology to exercise a variety of functional scenarios, including cross-interactions and ways to cover all points of convergence. Graph-based scenario models capture intended behavior of the IP blocks. They can be combined to create scenario models for major subsystems or the complete SoC. TrekSoC can “read” these scenario models intelligently and then automatically generate self-verifying C test cases to run on multiple heterogeneous embedded processors within the SoC. These multi-processor, multi-threaded test cases thoroughly exercise the system-level chip functionality, running end-to-end user scenarios with randomized variations, harnessing the power of the embedded processors to verify the SoC from the inside out.
Breker at DAC
You got it! The Breker Booth (#2015) theme is “Stitch and Ship will Sink Your Chip.” As proof, Breker will demonstrate TrekSoC daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday, June 3, through Wednesday, June 5, at the Austin Convention Center. The booth will feature a skit and a variety of presentations from Breker and its partners. Special musical entertainment from Rudy Roberson is planned also. Rudy has an extensive background in acting, singing and storytelling, including two years touring as a cast member of The Lion King and appearances on multiple original-cast recordings.
In another nod to its hometown, Breker will host a dinner cruise around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake June 4 for lucky attendees whose names are drawn at the end of each booth presentation Monday and Tuesday. The cruise will feature the exodus of the bats living under the Congress Avenue Bridge as they head out for their nightly feeding.
Breker is all over the DAC program. Engineers from IBM will present “Graph-Based Verification Patterns,” a look at how they apply Breker’s TrekSoC to a real-world verification project, during the Designer Track June 4 from noon until 1:30 p.m.
Adnan will participate in a DAC technical panel moderated by Brian Bailey of Brian Bailey Consulting titled, “Disruptive Verification Technologies: Can They Really Make a Difference?” June 5 from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Additionally, Tom Anderson organized “Organizational and Management Solutions to the Verification Crisis,” a DAC pavilion panel June 4 from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.
For more information on DAC, visit: www.dac.com.
Added details about TrekSoC and Breker Verification Systems can be found at: www.brekersystems.com. Requests for private suite meetings and demonstrations through the Breker website at: http://tiny.cc/frbqww
EDACafe readers who will be at DAC next week should plan to take in the Breker experience in Booth #2015. It will be a great learning experience about the risky stitch and ship strategy. It will be a chance to meet Adnan and Maheen and enter to win a ticket for the dinner cruise around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. Don’t forget to wish the Breker team a happy 10th anniversary.