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November 01, 2004
More Assertions
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on EDACafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by EDACafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!


This week's editorial follows up last week's on Assertion Based Verification (ABV) by including @HDL another vendor focused on this important area and also relevant product announcements by Cadence and Mentor Graphics. In addition this editorial presents updates on Intel and Google that were subjects of previous editorials.

@HDL Incorporated

@HDL was founded in April 1999 by Badruddin Agarwala, Vivek Bhat, and Tarak Parikh, former founders of Frontline Design Automation, a Verilog simulation company acquired by Avant! in 1997, and Yusuf Attarwala from SGI. @HDL is a privately-held company that received first round funding in early 2000. Investors and board members include Dr. Prabhu Goel former founder and CEO of Gateway Design Automation Corporation, and S. Atiq Raza, former President and COO at AMD.
The firm is a founding member of PSL/Sugar Consortium that promotes the use of PSL within the industry.

@HDL is pioneering the use of Adaptive Functional Verification (AFV) technology that combines the formal and simulation approaches with SOC/system-level design analysis and debugging. Adaptive Functional Verification is the selective, automatic application of formal model checking and dynamic simulation algorithms based on the property and complexity of the RTL code comprising the IP blocks and SOC.

“An adaptive approach that uses automatic formal model checking along with intelligent-random simulation, and high-level RTL analysis/debugging can dramatically improve verification times and shorten the overall cycle. In short, designers need an "Intelligent RTL Testbench" methodology that fully automates the verification flow for complex SOCs.”

In May 2003 @HDL announced it had licensed IBM's premium RuleBase formal verification technology offering high-performance static analysis of very large chip designs. This technology had been developed at IBM Haifa Research Labs.

In November 2003 @HDL introduced major update to its family of functional verification solutions. The Assertion Studio technology had five major components.
Visualizer reads in assertions written in either PSL or SV and automatically
creates the equivalent timing diagram for the assertion sequence.

Interpreter verifies assertions and assertion fixes by directly applying the PSL or SV assertion on simulation waveform data without having to re-run the edited assertion either formally or through simulation.

Explorer helps determine why a violation occurred during simulation or formal model checking by generating waveforms that show the sequence of events leading up to the violation and decomposing a complex PSL or SV assertion into its constituent sub-expressions and detailing precisely which part of the assertion was violated.

Assessor reports whether or not certain transactions occurred during simulation. A query language mechanism makes it easier for the user to find out exactly which transactions occurred and when. Coverage metrics are also available to measure design activity during simulation and to complement other metrics such as code coverage and testbench functional coverage.

Engine technology takes the user-written assertions in PSL or SV and outputs simulate-able and synthesizable Verilog to allow smooth interoperability immediately.
The @HDL product line consists of two tools, @Verifier and @Designer that form the basis of the company's AFV solution. @Verifier finds RTL bugs earlier in the design cycle by using formal model checking to verify automatically generated or user-written assertion. @Verifier automatically identifies design constructs like FIFOs and FSMs and generates assertions to check for common problems including one-hot drivers and decoders, parallel and full case statements, unreachable and terminal state, never reachable conditions and codes, FIFO read/write and reset errors, index-out-of range, and stuck at zero/one. Automatically generated assertions can be verified formally, or written out in
SystemVerilog or PSL for use in simulation. @Verifier-ZX combines @Verifier's ease-of-use with IBM's RuleBase solver technology. @Verifier-DP runs multiple assertions in parallel, leveraging existing server farms to achieve linear speed improvement. @Verifier Multiple Clock Domain Verification/Analysis (MCDVA) automatically identifies master clocks, clock tree, clock domain crossing and synchronizers. The module provides both structural and functional domain verification. @Designer delivers graphical debugging and design analysis environment to isolate functional errors during creation, formal model checking, simulation, and synthesis of Verilog-based designs. The module offers source
code debugging, memory viewer and waveform viewer. Pricing is around $150,000 for a three year license.

@HDL lists among its customers SiNett, Raza Foundries, Onnotech (Toshiba), Fujitsu Labs America, MegaChips, Oki Semiconducror and AMD. @HDL is a member of the Cadence Connections Program, the Mentor Graphics) Value Added Partners program and the Synopsys in-Sync Program.

I spoke with Tarak Parith the VP of Product at @HDL. He said that the privately held company has about thirty customers and 15 to 20 employees. The firm employs a direct sales force and a rep in Japan. Tarak believes that formal verification is still a missionary sale. It is difficult to crystallize benefits for prospects. He sees the challenges facing more rapid adoption are the relatively new languages that must be learned, the lack of useable tools and the performance impact on simulation execution. Formal verification is not for everyone. While basics assertions are simple and straightforward to compose, expressing complex behavior can be difficult without proper training, support
and tools. Rather than attempting to use formal verification everywhere, he recommends having a dedicated, knowledgeable team focused on problem areas. Tools are required to constrain the design to limit unrealistic failures and to analyze the cause of assertion failure. On the other hand he sees automated assertion generation becoming commonplace.

On October 18th Cadence announced a comprehensive assertion-based verification (ABV) solution as a part of its Incisive functional verification platform. The solution speeds verification of complex designs by creating an environment that helps users define assertions correctly, enables early detection of bugs close to the source, and monitors for completeness through assertion coverage. This functionality has been integrated into the platform's Incisive Unified Simulator. It includes broad, native assertion support for Property Specification Language (PSL), SystemVerilog Assertions (SVA) and Open Verification Library (OVL). In addition to these Accellera standards, Cadence is also
introducing an extended open-source library of assertions. This Library incorporates 50 complex assertion statements and code for customization. This library will be available in both PSL and SVA languages. A sample set of library elements is posted on the web and available for review.

On October 11th Mentor Graphics announced key extensions to its Scalable Verification solution with a new version of its ModelSim simulator and advanced verification technology from the recently completed acquisition of 0-In Design Automation.

With the ModelSim 6.0 simulator and the 0-In product line, Mentor Graphics now offers standards-based support for the most advanced verification methodologies, the press release said. Offering support for assertion-based verification and coverage-driven verification flows, as well as verification IP, the Scalable Verification platform offers engineers a faster way to reach verification closure than current methods.

According to Robert Hum, VP and GM for Mentor's Design Verification and Test Division, existing verification methodologies have run out of steam. "Designers are looking for new solutions that can dramatically increase their productivity. Methodologies and tools like assertions, static analysis, functional coverage, and coverage-driven verification are required to close the verification gap."

On Oct. 12, 2004 Intel Corporation announced its results for the third-quarter. Total revenue of $8.5 billion was up 5% sequentially and up 8% year-over-year. Third-quarter net income was $1.9 billion, up 8% sequentially and up 15% year-over-year.

The gross margin percentage for the quarter was 55.7 percent, as compared to the revised expectation of approximately 58 percent, plus or minus a couple of points, primarily due to higher than expected inventory reserves; higher than expected motherboard and chipset units and lower than expected processor units in the revenue mix; and an inventory write-down as a result of lower chipset unit costs.

The effective tax rate for the quarter was 21.4 percent, lower than the July expectation of approximately 31 percent and below the September expectation of approximately 29.5 percent. The September expectation reflected the impact of a higher percentage of profits being generated in lower-tax jurisdictions.

Table 1 Geographic Breakdown of Intel Revenue

In the last quarter Americas accounted for 21% of total revenue, AP 47%, Europe 22% and Japan 9%. Since the same period a year ago the Americas percentage of total revenue has dropped around 7%, while AP's percentage has grown by roughly the same amount.

Table 2 Intel Revenue by Business Segment

The Intel Architecture operating segment's products include microprocessors and related chipsets and motherboards. Beginning in 2004, the company combined its communications-related businesses into a single organization, the Intel Communications Group (ICG). ICG's products include flash memory; wired Ethernet and wireless connectivity products; communications infrastructure components such as network and embedded processors and optical components; microcontrollers; application and cellular processors used in cellular handsets and handheld computing devices; and cellular baseband chipsets.

The architect business segment accounted for 84% of total revenue and in turn microprocessors accounted for 83% of that revenue. The ICG business unit accounted for 16% of total revenue. Flash memory accounted for almost half of this revenue.

“Intel delivered growth in both of its major businesses in the third quarter driven by record server and mobile microprocessor shipments and market segment share gains in flash memory," said Intel CEO Craig R. Barrett. "Growth was not as high as we originally anticipated due to inventory adjustments at some of our major customers and lower than expected overall demand for PCs.”

"Intel crossed over to 90nm technology in microprocessor shipments to the computing market segment for the quarter and built 65nm memory chips containing more than half a billion transistors each, reflecting the company's long-term strategy of investing in leading-edge process technology. We also returned more cash to our stockholders with a $2.5-billion share re-purchase, our largest ever."

In recent months, Intel has made a number of changes in its product plans. In June a manufacturing glitch forced a small recall of chip sets, which handle communications between the processor and the rest of the system. Then, in July, the company said design problems would delay the release of mobile computer chip set dubbed Alviso until next year. The firm also said better-than-expected performance in manufacturing of Pentium 4s resulted in an inventory buildup. In August Intel indefinitely postponed the launch of a video display chip for rear-projection televisions, deciding to improve picture quality before sending the chip to market. On October 22nd Intel announced that it had
cancelled plans for a Pentium 4 processor at 4GHz and said it would refocus those resources on other chip enhancements. The cancellation is the most recent in a series of moves that underscore the company's shift from its traditional focus-- increasing clock speed-- to enhancing other aspects of the chip design.

On October 24th Intel Corp. announced that it canceled a project to develop a chip for projection TVs and said it planned to focus its resources in other areas. The company's plans to develop a liquid on crystal silicon chip, or LCoS, were first unveiled in January during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In August, Intel said it would not be released by the end of the year, as originally announced. LCoS competes against other new display technologies that have already invigorated the rear-projection TV market, most notably the digital light processing (DLP) chip pioneered by Texas Instruments Inc. Intel had claimed that this chip would help cut the cost of big-screen
high-definition television sets to less than $2,000 by 2005.

These are challenging times for Craig Barrett, Intel CEO since 1998. The former Associate Professor of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford has reached Intel's mandatory retirement age and will leave his office in May 2005. In July he wrote an open letter to the company's 80,000 employees which stated that he had spoken "bluntly and directly" with senior managers about the need to improve performance.

"Our business is complex, and we have set high expectations for ourselves. Therefore, it is critical that everyone--beginning with senior management but extending to all of you--focus intensely on actions and attitudes that will continue Intel's strong track record of technology leadership leading to outstanding company performance and satisfied customers."

There are many reasons for these, but in the end, the reasons don't matter, because the result is less satisfied customers and a less successful Intel. I believe, as you do, that this is not the Intel we all know and that it is not acceptable.”

Although a much smaller (~15% the size) firm AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) is seen as an Intel competitor on the technology front. As recounted in earlier editorial AMD's chips offering high-performance, simultaneous x86-based 32- and 64-bit computing were seen as a case of one-upmanship. At the end of August AMD announced that it was demonstrating the industry's first x86 dual-core processor on 90nm process technology. HP, IBM and Sun Microsystems, among others, announced support for AMD's dual-core technology. Microsoft gave an assist by adopting AMD's recommendation when it announced that software licensed on a per-processor basis will continue to be licensed that way when
installed on hardware containing dual-core and multi-core processors. Now on the heels of Intel's announcement canceling plans for a Pentium 4 processor at 4GHz, AMD announced on October 19th the Athlon™ 64 FX-55 processor for performance-hungry enthusiasts and hard-core gamers and the Athlon 64 processor 4000+. AMD Athlon 64 processors are the first 32- and 64-bit desktop and mobile processors designed with Enhanced Virus Protection (EVP) capabilities.

Table 3 AMD Financial Performance

“Our third quarter net income improvement was largely driven by a 21 percent sequential increase in Computation Products Group (CPG) sales and improved gross margin in the Memory Group,” said Robert J. Rivet, AMD's chief financial officer. “AMD64 processor sales represented over one-third of our total CPG sales. Sales growth was driven by both higher average selling price (ASP) and increased unit volumes.

On October 28th to foster the rapid adoption of technology in high-growth markets throughout the world, AMD formally unveiled a business strategy with initial participants in India, Mexico and the Caribbean to enable 50 percent of the world's population with Internet connectivity and computing capabilities by 2015. As part of its 50x15 strategy, AMD is announcing the Personal Internet Communicator (PIC), an innovative consumer device that enables affordable, managed Internet connectivity and offers Microsoft Windows-based computing capabilities to help fulfill the communication, education and entertainment needs of people in high-growth markets.

The stock market's reaction to AMD and Intel is shown in the chart below.

Figure 1 Stock Performance during 2004 for Intel, AMD and NASDAQ index

Google Inc.

I had included some material in an earlier editorial on Google because of their unusual Dutch auction approach to an IPO and because I suspected most Edacafe readers use Google on a daily basis. Now it's time for an update following the firm's October 21st announcement of its results for the quarter ending September 30th. In its first post-IPO quarter Google reported record revenues of $805.9 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2004, up 105% year over year. Revenue for the last nine months was $2.16 billion up 126% from $954 million. Income from operations, on a GAAP basis, was $11.1 million, or 1.4% of revenue compared to $66.6 million or 16.9% of revenue for
the prior year's quarter. Google-owned sites generated $412 million or 51% of total revenue. This represents an increase of 99%. Revenue generated on Google's partner sites, through the AdSense programs, contributed $384 million, or 48% percent of total revenue, a 120% increase. Income from operations includes the effects of a non-recurring, non-cash charge of $201.0 million related to the previously announced settlement of warrant and patent disputes with Yahoo! Inc. Without this non-recurring charge, Google would have realized income from operations of $212.1 million or 26.3% of revenues for the quarter. Net income on a GAAP basis was $52.0 million. Net income before certain
non-recurring items was $125.0 million. Net income for nine months was $195 million up from $78.4 million. At the end of the quarter, Google had a cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments balance of $1.86 billion. Google employs 2,668 full time employees on a worldwide basis.

Figure 2 Google Revenue and Net Income

The stock which went out at $85 has skyrocketed while the tech-laden NASDAQ has been relatively flat.

Figure 3 Google Stock Performance

Table 4 Comparison of well known Internet firms

“We are very pleased with the results of this quarter. Record revenues, robust margins and cash generation all illustrated strong performance and execution over the last quarter,” said Eric Schmidt, Google chief executive officer. “Our commitment to users and to the development of quality products and services for them clearly translated into robust financial results. That dedication to our users, combined with our relentless technology innovation and market opportunity make us very optimistic about our company's future.”

On October 25th Adobe Systems Inc and Yahoo! Inc announced a strategic relationship aimed at providing consumer services to internet users, but financial details were not disclosed. This week Adobe will introduce a co-branded Yahoo! Toolbar that will provide users with access to Yahoo! products including AntiSpy, Pop-Up Blocker and Yahoo! Search, as well as Adobe products, the companies said in a joint statement. A future release of Adobe Reader, Adobe's universal client software for viewing and interacting with Adobe PDF files, will feature Yahoo! Search as the default internet search, it added.

Another successful Internet related IPO was launched on October 25th by Israel-based Shopping.com Ltd. The firm is a leading online comparison shopping service. The Company gathers product and merchant data from across the Internet, organizes and structures it into a comprehensive catalog, and presents the resulting information to consumers in a user-friendly interface. The company sold 6.87 million shares, raising $123.7 million. Shares as of this writing are at $29.20, an increase of $11.20 or 62% from their $18 IPO price. This corresponds to a market cap of $812 million. Not bad for a company with 2003 revenue of $67 million.

Weekly Headlines

Toshiba Implements Its Largest Semiconductor Design to Date with Cadence Digital IC Flow

ARM and Philips' Handshake Solutions Collaborate to Develop Clockless Processor

Institute of Computing Technology of Chinese Academy of Sciences Selects Mentor Emulator as Verification Platform for Goodson Series CPU Chips

Synopsys' Magellan Deployed by NVIDIA to Maximize Verification Productivity on Next-Generation Graphics Processing Units

Cadence and ARM Tackle Signal Integrity Issues for Foundry Program Partners with New Views

Number Of Job Openings Explodes On TechJobsCafe & EDACafe

ATI Technologies Selects Mentor Graphics VStationTBX for Advanced Verification Acceleration

Accelerated Technology Provides Application Development Platform For Embedded Developers Using UML

Synopsys Galaxy Test Reduces Test Data Volume by 40x and Application Time by 13x at STMicroelectronics

NVIDIA Adopts Synopsys' Physically Aware Test Solution for Latest Processor Designs

TransEDA Shows Sustained Growth After Merging Verification Technologies

Altium Widens Nexar Reach and Enables LiveDesign on Any Third-Party FPGA Development Board

New Palladium II Extends Cadence Acceleration/Emulation Leadership; Cadence Delivers Unparalleled Speed and Capacity to Tackle the Most Complex SoC Verification

Zarlink Expands Market-Leading Portfolio of Digital Timing Chips for Networking Equipment

Financial News

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, Inc. Reports Consolidated Year 2004 Third-Quarter Financial Results

ON Semiconductor Reports Third Quarter Results

LSI Logic Reports Q3 2004 Financial Results Provides Q4 Business Outlook

STATS ChipPAC LTD. Reports Third Quarter 2004 Results

UMC Reports Record 2004 Third Quarter Results: Record Revenue with 15% Sequential Increase in Operating Income

Fabless Semiconductor Association Announces Fabless Fundings Total $1.5 Billion From Q1 Through Q3 2004; Fabless Industry On Pace To Raise Largest Annual Amount Since 2001

CEVA Announces Third Quarter Results - a Record 30 Million Units Shipped in the Third Quarter Reflects Strong End Markets Growth

Amkor Reports Third Quarter 2004 Results; Revenue Up 16%

RF Micro Devices Announces Financial Results; Revenue Down 8.8%

Atmel Reports Third Quarter Earnings Results; Revenue Up 23%

Agere Systems Reports Results for the Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2004; Revenue Down 13%

Taiwan Semiconductor Reports 20% Increase in Sequential EPS

NVIDIA Announces Preliminary Financial Results for the Third Quarter Ended October 24, 2004

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.