Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Thursday, July 30th, 2015
One of the signs that a technological domain is still fairly young is frequently evolving terminology as the pioneers attempt to explain to the mainstream what problem needs to be solved and what solutions can be brought to bear on the problem. Such is the case with SoC verification. At Breker we used to start explaining what we do by talking about graphs, but shifted to “graph-based scenario models” to emphasize that graphs are perfect for expressing scenarios of real-world behavior.
Our friends at Mentor, also strong advocates for graphs, began using the term “software-driven verification” to describe their approach. We rather like this description, but feel that it can only be applied accurately when embedded test code is being generated and when the embedded processors are in charge of the test case. Now our friends at Cadence have been sprinkling the term “use case” throughout their discussions on SoC and system verification. Let’s try to sort out what all this means.
Thursday, July 23rd, 2015
The recent death of EDA analyst Gary Smith overshadowed another major transition in our industry: the retirement of longtime EDA journalist Richard Goering at the end of June. Both of these men contributed an extraordinary amount to EDA, and today I’d like to say a bit about Richard and his accomplishments. He is best remembered as the CAD/CAE/EDA editor for Electronic Engineering Times, for many years the newspaper of record for electronics.
It would be hard for today’s young engineers to imagine how influential EE Times was at its peak. It stood out on everyone’s desk with its distinctive tabloid format. Most buyers turned to its pages first. All vendors wanted to achieve editorial coverage for their companies and products, in addition to advertising there. The EE Times journalists and editors were some of the best and brightest. Landing an interview with one of them was a goal for every PR campaign. When it came to EDA, Richard Goering was the man.
Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
Recent announcements from IBM and others about supporting EDA tools in the cloud have spurred renewed discussion on this topic, including here at The Breker Trekker. As expected, the recent posts have been very popular with our readers. Those of you who have been following this topic for a while may recall that, almost exactly two years ago, EDA vendor OneSpin announced cloud support for their formal tools. We invited their VP of Marketing, Dave Kelf, to fill us in their experiences since then:
Two years ago OneSpin introduced the cloud version of it’s Design Verification (DV) formal-based products. Some commentators pointed at other failed EDA attempts to make the same move, suggesting more of the same. Others hailed the announcement as a bold move whose time had come. So… did it work out and what have we learned? The results are surprising, and suggest trends that make some EDA solutions a natural fit for the cloud, whereas others are questionable.
Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
This week began on a very bad note in the EDA world: news of the death of longtime industry analyst Gary Smith. In an industry that has been largely ignored by Wall Street and big market analysis firms in recent years, Gary has played a critical role in continuing to carry the torch for EDA and providing both hard data and thoughtful commentary on business-related and technological topics. It is difficult to imagine our world without him.
Beyond his contributions to the industry, Gary was loved and admired by many of his fellow EDA and semiconductor professionals. I’m writing this post in the first person since the memories herein are mostly mine, but I know that I speak for my colleagues at Breker when I say that we always enjoyed meeting with Gary and that we will miss both his humor and his wisdom. We hope that we can all provide a measure of support to help his family get through this terrible time.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
Last week on The Breker Trekker, we discussed the resurgence of interest in EDA tools in the cloud. Like our first post on the topic two year’s ago, last week’s entry was very popular. Clearly this is a topic of interest to both our regular and occasional readers. Two more announcements regarding EDA in the cloud also surfaced during the recent Design Automation Conference (DAC), so it does seem as if there is more effort going toward finding a technically and financially successful industry solution.
Last week we summarized five barriers that have helped prevent cloud-based EDA from achieving mainstream adoption:
- The EDA vendor’s effort to port to a cloud-based platform
- Worries about GUI and interactive responsiveness
- Ability to support users of cloud-based tools
- Lack of an established, proven business model
- Concerns over security of the design and verification data in the cloud
Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
It has been almost exactly two years since we discussed the possibility of EDA tools in the cloud here on The Breker Trekker. The post was popular then, and it remains so. In fact, of the more than 100 posts we’ve published, our cloud post remains the second most read. This week, the recent news that IBM will make its EDA tools available in the cloud through a partnership with SiCAD brought cloud computing back to the forefront. Let’s discuss what has changed–and what hasn’t–in the past two years.
The idea of users being able to run EDA tools as leased enterprise software on remote machines has been around for years, well before the term “the cloud” was widely used. Synopsys invested a great deal of time and effort into its DesignSphere infrastructure, initially more of a grid application than a cloud solution as we use the term today. But the difference is not very important; the key concepts are the same and they represent a major departure from the time-tested model of customers “owning” EDA tools and running them in-house.
Wednesday, June 17th, 2015
As we have discussed before, we have followed the lead of other EDA vendors by packaging aspects of our advanced verification technologies into pushbutton applications (apps). The first in this product line, our Cache Coherency TrekApp, has been very popular since its introduction last year. As we have covered in depth, this is due in part to the trend of large chips becoming multiprocessor SoCs with multi-level caches. The sudden escalation of cache coherency verification from the CPU developer to the system integrator created strong demand for our nicely bundled solution.
There are many other trends ongoing and emerging in the SoC industry, and we have a long list of ideas for possible TrekApps to help address the challenges that are arising. We would like your help in prioritizing our development efforts. We have established a survey listing ten TrekApps under consideration. Please simply check off the ones of most interest to you by midnight Pacific time on June 30. All submissions will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon.com gift card.
Thursday, June 11th, 2015
Last week we looked forward to the 52nd edition of the annual Design Automation Conference (DAC), held this week at Moscone Center in San Francisco. Today we look back at the past three days and all of the activity at the show. It was a very busy time for Breker as usual, but there were some special aspects this year that we’d like to mention. We also want to thank the many customers, prospects, colleagues, and even competitors who joined us at various times for provocative discussions and plenty of social networking. As always, we invite you to add your comments on DAC and what you thought about the show.
Overall, the exhibition floor seemed lively for most of the time. We frequently had multiple visitors in our booth, asking questions and watching demos. We focused on two aspects of our Trek product line: immediate availability of portable stimulus and pushbutton verification of cache coherency. We saw lots of interest in both topics and it’s hard to say which drew more attention. Our suite was booked for most of the time, with customers receiving updates from Breker and prospects discussing their verification challenges and how we might be able to help them.
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
We have less than a week to go before the most important event for EDA vendors and users: the annual Design Automation Conference (DAC). The show returns to Moscone Center in San Francisco, which has played host many times over the years. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, San Francisco is a great draw for out-of-towners but also just a short trip from Breker’s headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley. The combination of a strong peer-reviewed technical conference and a busy exhibition floor is unbeatable, making this a must-attend event for many in our industry.
When the technical program first came out two months ago, we posted about some of the interesting changes made this year. There are some innovative additions to the program, including keynotes from non-EDA vendors, “sky talks” from industry experts, a major focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), and tracks for such important topics as automotive electronics, IP, and security. The popular Designer Track returns with case studies from real users, and there are plenty of deep technical papers for those who spend their days coding algorithms and optimizing data structures. At least eight sessions have significant verification content.
Thursday, May 28th, 2015
Over the lifetime of this blog, we’ve covered a lot of diverse topics regarding Breker’s products and technology, trends in SoC verification, and the EDA industry in general. For the last month, we’ve offered our longest series of posts ever on a single topic: portable stimulus. There’s a very good reason for this: Accellera’s Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG) is making good progress on defining a standard in this area. As one of the group’s leaders, Breker has been leveraging our many years of experience in SoC verification to develop the best possible industry solution. We’ve been using The Breker Trekker blog to share our thoughts and to encourage your feedback.
We begin the fifth, and perhaps most important, post in our series by reminding you that we split portable stimulus into three layers: defining the tests using abstract primitive operations, scheduling the tests across multiple threads and multiple processors, and randomizing the control flow to verify the full range of realistic use-case scenarios. We have shown over the last two posts that both the first and second layers can be defined easily by a simple application programming interface (API) providing access to a base-class library. This library includes the basic building blocks needed for a directed or automated test as well as scheduling control for processors, threads, and resources. It is natural to wonder whether the randomization layer can be handled in a similar way.