Posts Tagged ‘SoC’
A system-level verification engineer once told me that his company consumes over 50% of its emulation capacity debugging failures. According to him there was just no way around consuming emulators while debugging their SoC design emulation runs. In fact when failures occur during emulation, verification engineers often turn to live debugging with JTAG interfaces to the Design Under Test. This enables one engineer to debug one problem at a time, while consuming expensive emulation capacity for extended periods of time. After all, when some of the intricate interactions between system software and design hardware fail, it can take days if not weeks to debug. To say this is painful, slow, and expensive would be an understatement.
Would you be interested to learn about a better alternative for debugging SoC emulation runs? Veloce Codelink offers instant replay capability for emulation. This allows multiple engineers to debug multiple problems at the same time, without consuming any emulation capacity, leaving the emulators to be used where they’re most needed – running more regression tests. And Veloce Codelink is non-invasive – no additional clock cycles needed to extract emulation data.
If you consume as much time debugging emulation failures as the system-level verification engineer above, Veloce Codelink could double your emulation capacity, too. To learn more about Veloce Codelink’s “virtual emulation” that enables “DVR” control of emulation runs, check out our On-Demand Web Seminar titled “Off-line Debug of Multi-Core SoCs with Veloce Emulation“. In this web seminar you’ll also learn about Veloce Codelink’s “flight data recording” technology that enables long emulation runs to be debugged, without requiring huge amount of memory to store all of the data.
Is my car trying to tell me something?
This past Friday was the beginning of a two day internal functional verification meeting at Mentor Graphics corporate headquarters on Intelligent Testbench Automation (iTBA). (Mentor’s iTBA product, Questa inFact is hot and getting hotter.) After getting to my car to return home at the end of the first day, I was thinking that the large interest in this technology – demonstrated by a standing room only training event – has got to be a tipping point indication for iTBA.
I turned my car on. (Actually, I “pushed” it on as there is no place to put a key to turn anymore.)
Moments after starting my car a winter storm alert interrupted the music on the radio and displayed two notices. One I am familiar with when the temperature falls and snow begins to collect on the mountain passes. I’m not going to drive in the direction of the snow, so no problem. The other alert was of grave concern. It was a tornado watch. And the tornado watch was not off in some other direction many miles away, it was “0 miles” from me. I looked up, I scanned the horizon and dark black was in one direction and sun in the other. I changed the radio channel to a local AM evening drive station, but no mention of a tornado watch. I headed in the direction of the sun. It seemed the safest direction to head. But before I did, I snapped a quick picture as proof I actually read “Tornado Watch” on the car’s navigation screen.
iTBA to the Rescue?
I returned to ponder if functional verification has just gotten too big for current techniques that iTBA is going from a nice to have, to a must have.
Several years back it was popular to brag about the compute farms & ranches one had. With 5,000 machines here and another 5,000 machines there it seemed a sane demonstration of one’s design and verification prowess. But this gave way to 50,000 multicore machines and who is talking about this with pride? All talk is out of necessity. And what about the next step? Who has 500,000 or 5,000,000 on the drawing board or in their data centers? Looking around, it seems very few admit to more than 100,000 and even fewer have more than 500,000.
Verification may be in crisis, as many will say, but it you hold verification technology constant, it is not in crisis, is on a collision coarse with disaster. Addressing this crisis has been the theme of many of Mentor Graphics CEO Wally Rhines’ keynotes at DVCon. His 2011 keynote was taken to heart by many who attended. The need to improve by a several orders of magnitude the “Velocity of Verification” has been followed by several examples over the year.
One example was shared several months after DVCon when Mentor Graphics and TSMC announced we had partnered to validate advanced functional verification technology. While not all test results at TSMC or our common customer, AppliedMicro, were revealed, one of the slower tests demonstrated the value of iTBA to shorten time-to-coverage by over 100x. Even days after that announcement we disclosed Mentor’s Veloce emulation platform offered 400x OVM/UVM driven verification improvement.
100x and 400x seem like a large numbers, but it appears even bigger when you put it into the context of the time it was measured. With current constrained random techniques, a project that takes 6 weeks of simulator run time to reach 100% closure can reach it in about 10 hours with Questa inFact or about 2.5 hours with Veloce. Instead of using complex scripts to peek in on a simulation run over the course of a month and a half, a verification team could actually leave work for the day, return the next morning and have a full, complete and exhaustive verification run. And when even faster turnaround time is needed, emulation returns results during the work day.
SoC Verification: A Balance of simulation, iTBA & emulation
Wally’s DVCon 2011 keynote referenced 8 customer results coming from Mentor’s Questa inFact tool. Many more have discovered what this can do for them as well. And with each success, come the requests from more to see what it can do for them.
But changing the “Velocity of SoC Verification” has not rested on one technique alone. Stop by the Mentor Graphics DVCon booth and we can share with you the advances we have made to address system-level verification since last year.
Crossing The Chasm
Which brings me to the point of the “Tornado Watch.” As I pondered the iTBA tipping point, about “how little things can make big differences” as can be found in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, my car must have been channeling Geoffrey Moore of “Crossing The Chasm” fame instead. For that reason it must have issued the Tornado Watch. Could it be that iTBA is set to cross the chasm from early adopters to the early majority?
And thankfully, I don’t think my car is programmed to issue tipping point warnings, nor do I want to see if it can.
In the end, it will be with the benefit of hindsight that let’s us know if we are crossing the chasm into the tornado or not now or soon. But for Mentor’s part, full and advanced support of iTBA technology with Questa inFact is ready now, and we are set to cross the chasm into the tornado. My colleague, Mark Olen, blogs about iTBA here. If you have not had a chance yet to read his blog on iTBA delivering 10x to 100x faster functional verification, it is worth the time to do so. You can look for him to give frequent updates on iTBA and comment on the positive impact is has on SoC design and verification teams in the months ahead.
I look forward to seeing you at DVCon.
Instant Replay Offers Multiple Views at Any Speed
If you’ve watched any professional sporting event on television lately, you’ve seen the pressure put on referees and umpires. They have to make split-second decisions in real-time, having viewed ultra-high-speed action just a single time. But watching at home on television, we get the luxury of viewing multiple replays of events in question in high-definition super-slow-motion, one frame at a time, and even in reverse. We also get to see many different views of these controversial events, from the front, the back, the side, up close, or far away. Sometimes it seems there must be twenty different cameras at every sporting event.
Wouldn’t it nice if you could apply this same principle to your SoC level simulations? What if you had instant replay from multiple viewing angles in your functional verification toolbox? It turns out that such a technology indeed exists, and it’s called “Codelink Replay”.
Codelink Replay enables verification engineers to use instant replay with multiple viewing angles to quickly and accurately debug even the most complex SoC level simulation failures. This is becoming increasingly important, as we see in Harry Foster’s blog series about the 2010 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study that over half of all new design starts now contain multiple embedded processors. If you’re responsible for verifying a design with multiple embedded cores such as ARM’s new Cortex A15 and Cortex A7 processors, this technology will have a dramatic impact for you.
Multi-Core SoC Design Verification
Multi-core designs present a whole new level of verification challenges. Achieving functional coverage of your IP blocks at the RTL level has become merely a pre-requisite now – as they say “necessary but not sufficient”. Welcome to the world of SoC level verification, where you use your design’s software as a testbench. After all, since a testbench’s role is to mimic the design’s target environment, so as to test its functionality, how better to accomplish this than to execute the design’s software against its hardware, albeit during simulation?
Some verification teams have already dabbled in this world. Perhaps you’ve written a handful of tests in C or assembly code, loaded them into memory, initialized your processor, and executed them. This is indeed the best way to verify SoC level functionality including power optimization management, clocking domain control, bus traffic arbitration schemes, driver-to-peripheral compatibility, and more, as none of these aspects of an SoC design can be appropriately verified at the RTL IP block level.
However, imagine running a software testbench program only to see that the processor stopped executing code two hours into the simulation. What do you do next? Debugging “software as a testbench” simulation can be daunting. Especially when the software developers say “the software is good”, and the hardware designers say “the hardware is fine”. Until recently, you could count on weeks to debug these types of failures. And the problem is compounded with today’s SoC designs with multiple processors running software test programs from memory.
This is where Codelink Replay comes in. It enables you to replay your simulation in slow motion or fast forward, while observing many different views including hardware views (waveforms, CPU register values, program counter, call stack, bus transactions, and four-state logic) and software views (memory, source code, decompiled code, variable values, and output) – all remaining in perfect synchrony, whether you’re playing forward or backward, single-step, slow-motion, or fast speed. So when your simulation fails, just start at that point in time, and replay backwards to the root of the problem. It’s non-invasive. It doesn’t require any modifications to your design or to your tests.
Debugging SoC Designs Quickly and Accurately
So if you’re under pressure to make fast and accurate decisions when your SoC level tests fail, you can relate to the challenges faced by professional sports referees and umpires. But with Codelink Replay, you can be assured that there are about 20 different virtual “cameras” tracing and logging your processors during simulation, giving you the same instant replay benefit we get when we watch sporting events on television. If you’re interested to learn more about this new technology, check out the web seminar at the URL below, that introduces Codelink Replay, and shows how it supports the entire ARM family of processors, including even the latest Cortex A-Series, Cortex R-Series, and Cortex M-Series.
Watch DVCon Co-Located Event Presentations
Two presentations from the second annual SystemC Day at DVCon 2011 are available now. The first presentation is the keynote by Jim Hogan, serial EDA entrepreneur at Vista Ventures, LLC and the second is an introduction to the emerging IEEE Std. 1666™, SystemC standard by Jim Aynsley at Doulos. SystemC Day brought users together to discuss the current state of the market for ESL design and the pending content of the SystemC standard that is current in final ballot by the IEEE.
To view the video presentations, you will need to register with the Open SystemC Initiative.
Abstract: SoCs are becoming ubiquitous in semiconductor development. Further, these SoCs are no longer processor-centric, and they are differentiated through the integration of design elements such as multi-CPU, multi-core, DSP cores, hardware accelerators, peripherals and software.
Industry expert and private investor Jim Hogan will discuss the semiconductor industry’s growing adoption of SoC design, and its reliance on diverse sources of hardware and software IP, developed both internally and externally.
John Aynsley, Doulos Ltd., UK
The New IEEE 1666 SystemC Standard
Abstract: The IEEE SystemC Standard is currently being revised and updated, with the new standard due to be published later in 2011. This new version of the SystemC standard will for the first time include the TLM-1 and TLM-2.0 libraries. Meanwhile, OSCI is working to ensure that the SystemC Proof-of-Concept simulator tracks any changes to the IEEE standard. This presentation will give a concise technical summary of the most important new and revised features in the SystemC standard, will give a behind-the-scenes insight into the rationale behind the changes, and will show examples to illustrate the new features in action.
About Verification Horizons BLOG
This blog will provide an online forum to provide weekly updates on concepts, values, standards, methodologies and examples to assist with the understanding of what advanced functional verification technologies can do and how to most effectively apply them. We're looking forward to your comments and suggestions on the posts to make this a useful tool.
- Part 1: The 2012 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study
- What’s the deal with those wire’s and reg’s in Verilog
- Getting AMP’ed Up on the IEEE Low-Power Standard
- Prologue: The 2012 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study
- Even More UVM Debug in Questa 10.2
- IEEE Approves New Low Power Standard
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- Part 9: The 2010 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study
- Verification Horizons DAC Issue Now Available Online
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- UVM Register Kit Available for OVM 2.1.2
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- User-2-User’s Functional Verification Track
- Part 7: The 2010 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study
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- SystemC Day 2011 Videos Available Now
- Part 5: The 2010 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study
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- Part 3: The 2010 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study
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- The reports of OVM’s death are greatly exaggerated (with apologies to Mark Twain)
- New Verification Academy Advanced OVM (&UVM) Module
- OVM/UVM @DAC: The Dog That Didn’t Bark
- DAC: Day 1; An Ode to an Old Friend
- UVM: Joint Statement Issued by Mentor, Cadence & Synopsys
- Static Verification
- OVM/UVM at DAC 2010
- DAC Panel: Bridging Pre-Silicon Verification and Post-Silicon Validation
- Accellera’s DAC Breakfast & Panel Discussion
- May 2010 (9)
- Easier UVM Testbench Construction – UVM Sequence Layering
- North American SystemC User Group (NASCUG) Meeting at DAC
- An Extension to UVM: The UVM Container
- UVM Register Package 2.0 Available for Download
- Accellera’s OVM: Omnimodus Verification Methodology
- High-Level Design Validation and Test (HLDVT) 2010
- New OVM Sequence Layering Package – For Easier Tests
- OVM 2.0 Register Package Released
- OVM Extensions for Testbench Reuse
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- SystemC Day Videos from DVCon Available Now
- On Committees and Motivations
- The Final Signatures (the meeting during the meeting)
- UVM Adoption: Go Native-UVM or use OVM Compatibility Kit?
- UVM-EA (Early Adopter) Starter Kit Available for Download
- Accellera Adopts OVM 2.1.1 for its Universal Verification Methodology (UVM)
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- December 2009 (15)
- A Cliffhanger ABV Seminar, Jan 19, Santa Clara, CA
- Truth in Labeling: VMM2.0
- IEEE Std. 1800™-2009 (SystemVerilog) Ready for Purchase & Download
- December Verification Horizons Issue Out
- Evolution is a tinkerer
- It Is Better to Give than It Is to Receive
- Zombie Alert! (Can the CEDA DTC “User Voice” Be Heard When They Won’t Let You Listen)
- DVCon is Just Around the Corner
- The “Standards Corner” Becomes a Blog
- I Am Honored to Honor
- IEEE Standards Association Awards Ceremony
- ABV and being from Missouri…
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- Full House – and this is no gamble!
- Welcome to the Verification Horizons Blog!
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