Archive for October, 2012

31 October, 2012

Ready for 100 billion “things” connected by the Internet?

The IEEE Standards Association (SA) Corporate Advisory Group (CAG) has been working to bring industry input into the standards development organization on the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) trend that will connect billions of devices with each other.

As you can imagine, the impact this will have to the service structure down to the development of connected devices will have impact on tools used to create, verify and test them from the EDA industry to the protocols that will need to be in place to facilitate this.

This past summer the oneM2M was launched to bring some groups together who were dedicated to product technical specification for the M2M Service Layer.  The impact on the IEEE, that is responsible for ongoing Internet standardization, is likewise large and not totally known.

Segars ARM Techcon Presentation smlI was reminded of the IoT impact this week by ARM’s EVP, Simon Segars.  His ARM Techcon keynote presentation this week.  noted the IoT is a merging of our digital and physical worlds.  He also said predictions are the data from smartphones is “exploding at a 100% growth rate a year for the next 4-5 years.”   To make the point even more stunning, Simon shared that Facebook expects 1-2 billion pictures will be taken and uploaded to their website around Halloween 2012.  The good news for those who did not have the time to make it to Santa Clara, CA USA for ARM Techcon, his presentation has been made available for viewing on YouTube.  You can find it here.

The IoT conversation continues around the globe.

IEEE IoT Workshop: You are invited!

ieee_mb_blue IEEE has restored service to their Internet connection at www.ieee.org.  However, connection from IEEE staff locations is tentative due to the widespread devastation of Hurricane Sandy in the New Jersey USA area where they live and work.  There may be delays in getting official invitations out on the IoT workshop.  The IEEE workshop on Internet of Things has been put together in conjunction with several of the CAG member companies, with direct leadership from our STMicroelectonics representative and input from representatives from Broadcom, GE Medical, Ericsson, Qualcomm and others. The IEEE SA staff and IoT Workshop leadership have asked those who are connected to share workshop information.  I am doing that here.

You are invited to attend and participate in the workshop.  Details on the event are:

Event Description:

The event will feature a combination of keynote speeches, product showcase and panel sessions with the goal to:

  • identify collaboration opportunities and standardization gaps related to IoT
  • help industry foster the growth of IoT markets;
  • leverage IEEE’s value and platform for IoT industry-wide consensus development,; and
  • help industry with the creation of a vibrant IoT ecosystem.

Date: 13 November 2012
Location: Milan, Italy
Fee: Free

Keynotes include:

  • Service Provider’s View of the IoT World (SP)
  • End to End Systems Security (ST)
  • IEEE-SA – Perfect Platform for the New Millennia of Consensus Development

Panel Topics include:

  • GW as an Enabler of the New Services in the IoT World
  • Monetizing Services in the IoT World
  • Security in the IoT World
  • Standard, what we have and what is missing, convergence in the technology world, collaboration opportunities.

Website: http://standards.ieee.org/events/iot/index.html

WEATHER ALERT!
31 October 2012 4:25 p.m. PDT
Access to ieee.org has been restored.  That was quick! You can now access IoT Workshop details from IEEE directly.
31 October 2012 3:00 p.m. PDT
Due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy, power to IEEE servers has been lost and backup power sources have been depleted.  Access to the IEEE website for more information, registration and additional details is not available at this moment.  The workshop will be held.If the servers return to the Internet, I will update this notice.And if their absence appears to be something that will last longer than another day or so, I will update this blog with alternate contact information for those who would like more detailed information on how to register and where to go to attend the event. 

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24 October, 2012

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that the latest and greatest edition of Verification Horizons is now available. The articles in this issue all discuss how you can apply new techniques and technology to achieve greater verification productivity. And for you football (I mean “American football” as opposed to “soccer”) fans out there, be sure and check out the Editor’s Note.

If you’re not already receiving Verification Horizons, you can sign up here.

18 October, 2012

When it comes to formal methods, many engineers are skeptics. Perhaps this is due to value propositions that have been pitched over the years that have over-promised yet under-delivered in terms of results. Or perhaps it is due to the advanced skills that have traditionally been required to achieve predictable and reliable results. After all, historically this was the case—dating back to the mid-nineties when formal techniques were only adopted by companies that could afford a dedicated team of formal experts with PhDs.

So, what’s changed today? The emergence of functional verification solutions targeted at specific problem domains, which blend simulation with formal-based techniques in a seamless way to improve results. In other words, the application of formal-based technology is not just for experts anymore! In fact, everyone can reap the benefits of formal analysis today with very little effort.

One example of this blending of simulation with formal-based techniques is in the area of accelerating the process of code coverage closure with the new Questa CoverCheck solution. Closing code coverage typically involves many engineering weeks of effort to manually review code coverage holes to determine if they are unreachable and can be safely ignored—or figuring out exactly how to handcraft special tests to cover them during simulation. Questa CoverCheck makes it easy for non-expert users to leverage formal-based technology to complete this process by automatically identifying the set of unreachable coverage items in a design, and then guiding the user to create tests for the reachable items that have not been covered yet. This process, illustrated in the figure below, is push-button, low-effort, and requires no expertise with formal techniques. In addition, no assertions are required nor expertise in assertion languages. It is a beautiful example of how formal-based technology is blended with simulation to form a solution that improves both productivity and quality of results.

Another example of how formal-based technology is being used today to complement simulation is with AutoCheck, which is part of the Questa Formal solution. For example, there is a class of bugs that cannot be found using RTL simulation due to a simulation effect known as X-state optimism. These bugs might be found during gate-level simulation, but this occurs very late in the design flow when it is costlier to fix. By using AutoCheck, engineers are able to identify and correct X-state issues early in the design flow, before simulation occurs. In addition to X-state issues, AutoCheck uses formal-based technology to verify a wide range of common RTL errors that are difficult or impossible to find during RTL simulation. It is another example of a push-button, low-effort solution where assertion-language and formal expertise is not required. What’s new in the latest Questa Formal release is significant improvements in engine performance and capacity, along with multicore support.

Questa CDC is one more example of how formal-based technology is being used today to complement simulation. Today, we see about 94% of all designs have multiple asynchronous clock domains. Verifying that a signal originating from one clock domain will safely be registered in a different asynchronous clock domain is not possible using traditional RTL simulation since state element setup and hold times are not modeled, which means that metastability issues will not be verified. Again, these bugs might be found later in the flow during gate-level simulation where it is costlier to fix. Static timing analysis, although effective at finding timing issues within a single or synchronous clock domains is unable to identify issues across asyncrhonous clock domains. This is an area with formal-based technology, such as Questa CDC, can help. What’s new in the latest Questa CDC release is support for unlimited design sizes through hierarchical CDC analysis along with a 5X improvement in performance.

To learn what’s new with Questa Formal-Based Technology, see our recent press release. Or check out the Questa Cover Check, Questa CDC and Questa Formal links.

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16 October, 2012

A new style takes center stage

It was Fashion Week in Portland, Oregon in early October.  And while the thought of Portland and fashion might not be believable to many in the world, especially those who look to the design houses of Paris or Milan, it was.  What struck me was the blend of fashion with high tech this year.  Intel took the opportunity to roll out its fashion inspired campaign (dressing room mirror sized tablets) and Mitsubishi used it to launch its new electric vehicle (named MiEV in case you did not know).  Certainly it was more than just your run-of-the-mill runway show.  But that was not the only thing “getting some style” here in the Portland area.

VA 2The Verification Academy team at Mentor Graphics has been working hard as well to restyle the Verification Academy website, modernize it and make content easily accessible. It made its debut in late September, a few weeks before the Portland Fashion Show.  While these two things are a coincidence, the focus on a refreshed style should not to be totally unexpected.

Some of the changes just had to be made given the success of the Verification Academy.  When it started a few years back, Harry Foster (the face in the picture of the Verification Academy website above) knew the adoption of advanced technology was hampered by unequal and slow distribution of knowledge.  Part of the Verification Academy’s thrust was to bring information about advanced verification topics to the whole world in a format that could be easily used.  The content comes from respected verification subject matter experts and the first “runaway success” was the Open Verification Methodology (OVM) training by John Aynsley from Doulos for the “basic” module and Tom Fitzpatrick from Mentor Graphics for the “advanced” module.  The Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) course, likewise, has also joined the ranks of the highly watched.  Updates to the Academy improve the services to deliver video.

We have moved to the most current web video protocols that allow modern browsers and mobile devices to easily access course content. You can watch courses on the “smaller” smartphone screens to the largest of TV displays with SD and HD video to support your viewing preferences. Since content is delivered in native web technologies, users do not have to depend on Flash or other plugins.

We have also migrated the Academy to the leading open source content management system and adopted the use SSL throughout the Verification Academy to make it more secure.

When we first started the Verification Academy, we did not know how large the community would grow nor could we predict the demands the community would place on the resources to support it.  Today, there are almost 12.5K users making it the largest single site to support the verification professional.  The changes we have made to the internals of the site show a speed improvement of over 400% by exploiting a commercial content delivery network to handle large media.

UVM Basic Intro CCAnd for many members, where English is a second language, the video captions, when offered, are in plain text.  Registered users can click on the picture to the right to see the UVM Introduction and enable closed caption to see how the text appears right below the video.  (Or, from reading the text below video in the picture to the right, you can see John is introducing himself at the moment of this screen capture.)

We have also made big improvements to searches.  The searching facility now scans across all content at once, from the forums, to the UVM/OVM Cookbook and presents the information to you in an improved way to allow you to filter the results to focus on just that you want to know.

Want to experience the new Verification Academy 2.0 style?  Click here to go to the Verification Academy to see these changes and discover these and other changes yourself. Share your comments with me on what you think.  Have we made it better for you?  And if not, what more can we do to improve your experience even more?

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