Friday, October 3rd, 2014
Over the last several blogs posts, we’ve twice previewed the very first DVCon India show, celebrating it as a sign of India’s ever-growing importance in the electronics industry. We also mentioned that our co-founder and CEO Adnan Hamid would be presenting in two tutorials and helping to staff our booth in the exhibition. Now that the event is over and Adnan has returned from his travels, we’d like to fill you in what turned out to be a great event.
We have heard nothing but positive comments from attendees, vendors, and organizers. The conference was well attended, full of strong technical content, and well run. Perhaps the dominant theme to emerge was the importance of the “portable stimulus” effort undertaken by Accellera and the solutions available to meet some or all of the vision. It may be a stretch to call DVCon India the “Portable Stimulus Conference” but surely the first day (Thursday) was “Portable Stimulus Day” and we’ll explain why.
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
This morning, our good friends at Carbon Design Systems announced a new Web portal to provide system-level solutions for system-on-chip (SoC) developers. The Carbon System Exchange provides a wide range of Carbon Performance Analysis Kits (CPAKs), pre-built systems or subsystems with software at the bare metal or operating system level. CPAKs are key building blocks for SoC teams creating complete virtual prototypes for their designs.
Breker is one of nine announced IP and EDA partners who are working with Carbon to create new CPAKs or enhance current offerings. Some partners, such as ARM, Arteris, and Cadence, are providing processor models or other forms of IP commonly found in SoCs. Others, such as Kozio and Breker, are providing software to run on the CPAKs. As you might expect, what we’re actually providing is not a fixed set of software, but rather the ability for CPAK users to generate multi-processor, multi-threaded, self-verifying C test cases.
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
One of the many challenges faced by small software companies is evolving their product lines in ways that make sense. New products must mesh with existing products so that customers can quickly understand what they might want. Products must be differentiated enough to stand separately, yet should leverage some of the same technology and expertise. Small companies have limited resources and it’s usually a mistake to develop multiple unrelated products requiring separate engineering teams.
Breker is no exception; we have a bunch of smart people with lots of ideas about how graphs can be applied to a wide range of problems. However, by focusing on the functional verification of large, complex chips using graph-based scenario models we are able to target a fairly specific group of companies and users. We also get tremendous productivity from a small R&D team because their collective knowledge spans the limited but important product range that we cover. This blog post is an attempt to describe that range more precisely.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
What verification engineer doesn’t love the occasional conference? It’s a chance to get out of the cubicle farm, hang out with colleagues from other companies, listen to stimulating technical talks, and catch up on what EDA, IP, and semiconductor vendors have been doing. Even in a time of tight travel budgets, the right conference can provide dividends far beyond its cost. There are a lot of smart people in the electronics industry and it’s valuable to share problems and solutions with them.
There are actually quite a few conferences and trade shows that have interesting verification content and draw significant numbers of verification engineers. One of the most-read posts in the history of The Breker Trekker blog was a discussion on which conferences verification engineers like best. We are constantly evaluating which events provide the most value to us and our customers, and find ourselves in the unusual position of having four shows scheduled in four locations over the next four weeks.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Three weeks ago, we introduced our TrekUVM product, a solution for automatically generating test cases to improve coverage of chips in transactional testbenches. We don’t sit still for long at Breker; today we’re introducing the first of a series of TrekApp (application) products that will address specific problems in the verification of SoCs and other large designs. The term “app” is well-known from smartphones and tablets, but also used more and more in EDA.
Apps are attractive for several reasons. They provide turnkey access to new technologies without the user having to become an expert. They solve problems that are well established as project bottlenecks, so a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis tend to be easy. They provide immediate value to the project team, reducing the cost of deployment and increasing the ROI. For SoC verification, we’ve chosen cache coherency as the first app to make available.
Friday, August 29th, 2014
As anyone involved in chip development knows, one of the biggest events of the year is the Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition, DVCon, which has been held for many years in San Jose. I’ve frequently shared my thoughts on this show and its importance to the industry in this blog. In just four weeks, DVCon expands to Bangalore for the very first DVCon India show. The full program for September 25-26 is now online and I’d like to focus on a few highlights from my perspective.
The first thing to note is the breadth of material being covered. The technical track is split between electronic system level (ESL) and design and verification (DV) topics, with a slight edge to the latter in terms of overall sessions. There are as many as five tracks in parallel, which is quite an accomplishment for a brand-new event. I know that there were many excellent session proposals submitted, which means that those selected are likely to be of high quality and wide interest.
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Several posts back, we introduced the idea of “composing” higher-level verification elements from low-level elements with little or no effort. We discussed how this was not possible with traditional testbench elements such as virtual sequencers and scoreboards. We showed that Breker’s graph-based scenario models can be simply combined from the block level to the cluster level, and from the cluster level to the full-chip level.
Last week, we took the unusual step of announcing a new EDA product via social media rather than a traditional press release. The news about TrekUVM clearly spread; we had a nice spike in blog readership and an even bigger spike in traffic to our Web site. Since our readers have interest in this new product, we’d like to continue talking about it and, specifically, show how it fosters model composition and vertical reuse.
Thursday, August 14th, 2014
In our previous four posts, we have woven a story quite different from the way we’ve talked about Breker and our technology for the past few years. Regular readers know that our focus has been on verifying system-on-chip (SoC) designs by generated multi-threaded, self-verifying C test cases to run on the SoC’s embedded processors. TrekSoC generates these test cases for simulation with RTL or ESL models; TrekSoC-Si generates test cases for emulator, FPGA prototypes, and actual silicon.
The last few posts have pointed out that TrekSoC has had to handle running in a transactional testbench since many test cases send data on or off the chip. We’ve worked hard to ensure that we can integrate easily into testbenches compliant with the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) standard. Today we leverage this knowledge as we introduce TrekUVM, which generates multi-threaded, self-verifying test cases for a purely transactional UVM testbench.
Thursday, August 7th, 2014
In our last blog post, we worked our way up the conclusion that our TrekSoC product can be used to verify designs that do not contain embedded processors. As we noted, there is not a widely accepted industry term for such devices. For the moment, let’s call them “transactional designs” since the majority of them take transactions in at one end and generate transactions at the other end, sometimes for two very different protocols, and are often bidirectional in nature.
The technological argument is simple. Most SoCs also have I/O ports, both standard buses and proprietary protocols, and TrekSoC must be able to talk to them, coordinate among them, and synchronize their transactions with generated C code running in the embedded processors. A purely transactional chip and testbench form a subset of the challenge for which TrekSoC is designed, so it’s not surprising that we can help. Today’s post fills in some more details.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
In our previous two posts, we went into considerable detail on the vertical reuse of verification information from IP block to subsystem to system. We have focused on how graph-based scenario models enable simple composition as you move up the design hierarchy. This type of reuse is not possible with traditional testbench elements such as UVM scoreboards and virtual sequencers. Once again, this is not a slam against the UVM, but rather a basic trait of constrained-random testbenches.
We skimmed over one aspect of vertical reuse: the transition from a “headless” SoC subsystem with no CPU to full-chip simulation with our automatically generated multi-threaded C test cases running on the SoC”s embedded processors. We also skipped the question of whether or not our graph-based scenario models can generate full-chip tests for chips that do not contain processors and are not classified as SoCs. This post links these ideas together and answers the question. (more…)