Posts Tagged ‘vhdl’

4 June, 2015

Learn more about DDA at DAC

At DAC – Mentor Graphics and Cadence Design Systems are coming together to usher in another level of productivity in verification results data access and portability with a modern design debug data application programming interface standard. We call this emerging standard the Debug Data API, or DDA for short.  We want to share more details with you in person at DAC.  Join us on Tuesday, June 9th, at the Verification Academy Booth (#2408) at 5:00pm for a joint presentation and unveiling.  And to get a bit of background and hint of what’s to come, please read on.

History: It Started with VCD

In the beginning we had VCD as the universal standard format to exchange simulation results as part of the IEEE 1364 (Verilog) standard.   Anyone trying to use VCD today on those large SoC’s or complex FPGA’s knows the size of VCD files has all but excluded this portion of the IEEE standard from use in modern design verification practice. So the question is when will it be replaced?

To ask that question today seems fine.  But I was even skeptical in the mid 1990’s when we at Mentor Graphics created Extended VCD to support the IEEE 1076.4 (VITAL) gate level simulation standard.  At that time the largest designs were around 1 million gates. While Extended VCD never became an official IEEE standard, we shared it with our ASIC Vendor and FPGA partners along with our major competitors to ensure debug data access and portability for VITAL users was on par with Verilog.  But Extended VCD also suffers the same fate of being almost impossible to support modern large designs.

Today: VCD Replaced by a Proprietary World

VCD and Extended VCD have remained static for about 20 years. But commercial simulator, emulator and other verification technology suppliers have not stopped innovating to advance support for larger design sizes with larger result data sets. As we move to 2 billion gate designs and beyond, the dependence on these private and closed technological advances and innovations has never been more important.

But that proprietary dependence comes with a cost. We stand at a crossroads where consumers of verification results information lose the open and unencumbered use offered by VCD or they need a path forward that preserves their current benefits while protecting and encouraging producers of such information to continue to innovate by private means.  The only alternative are fully integrated solutions from a single supplier that rarely get consumer endorsement in a best-of-breed; mix-and-match world.

Near Future: Federating the Proprietary World with DDA

Federating proprietary solutions almost sounds like something that is impossible to do. But Mentor and Cadence will share their emerging work on a standard to federate the different sources of verification results that can come from private sources with unencumbered access for the consumer. The Debug Data API standard will offer consumers the benefits of VCD interoperability, data portability and openness while preserving the benefits of private innovation for tool and solution producers. It will not impose data format translations from one format to another as a means to promote data portability.  It will not require the means by which one supplier or another stores verification results to be exposed.  It will offer the best of both worlds to producers and consumers.  I guess in some cases, you can have your cake and eat it too! There are more details to share, and the best place start is to meet us at DAC.

VA DDA Session AbstractMentor and Cadence Share DDA Details at DAC

  • Location: Verification Academy Booth (#2408)
  • Date: Tuesday, June 9th
  • Time: 5:00pm PT
    More Information >

We will discuss the details of DDA and show a proof of concept demonstration that will highlight each company’s simulator and results viewer in action.  Since there is no other session following this one at the Verification Academy booth, we will also be around to discuss the next steps with all present afterwards.

You can read more about this from my colleague and competitor, Cadence’s Adam Sherer, on his blog at the Cadence site here.  He bring his own perspective to this.

See you at DAC!

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9 October, 2014

DVCon India, held in September 2014 in Bangalore, built on the Indian SystemC User Group meeting events and added a Design & Verification track to its popular system-level design (ESL) track that has been popular for many years.  The main stage played host to the keynote presentations, opening ceremonies and best paper and poster awards.

Several DVCon India keynote presentations, which I will go into more depth later touched on emerging use of virtual platforms in system design and the growing impact India has on design verification.  In particular, Mentor’s CEO, Wally Rhines contrasted Wilson Research survey data on design verification from India and the rest of the world.  A strong adoption of SystemVerilog and its popular methodology, the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) was clear from the survey results Wally shared.

But even beyond SystemVerilog and UVM, the discuss of what could come next anchored the first day of DVCon India discussion on Accellera’s exploration of “portable stimulus.”  Accellera has a group exploring if the industry is ready to start a standards project on this concept.  And the first day when DVCon India attendees were offered an opportunity to learn about this, the multi-company (Mentor Graphics, Breker & CVC) tutorial on the topic was standing room only.

DVCon Europe – The Stage is Set!

A tutorial slot at DVCon Europe will be devoted to the same topic that was popular at DVCon India.  For DVCon Europe attendees, you will find Tutorial T9, “Creating Portable Tests with a Graph-Based Test Specification” will cover this topic.  Technical representatives from Mentor Graphics and Breker will cover aspects of portable stimulus and offer examples of how it can work.  And early application of the technology will be covered by a representative from IBM.  To cover the topic appropriately, we have modified the presenters listed in the official printed program and full details are available online.  The presenters will be, in this order:

  • Holger Horbach, IBM, Germany
  • Frederic Krampac, Breker, France
  • Staffan Berg, Mentor Graphics, Sweden

Please join us for this tutorial and ensuing conversation and discussion.  Verification productivity is a pressing issue and our ability to better control and create stimulus is a step in the direction to address the verification challenges we all face.

One last note, the concept of “portable stimulus” is language agnostic so no matter which language you use for design and verification, the intention is this technology will be able to help.   The tutorial will help you understand how using a graph-based approach enables the highest degree of verification re-use, from IP block to sub-system to full-system level verification. You will see how it supports verification in SystemVerilog, Verilog, VHDL, C, C/C++, assembly, and even other non-traditional base languages. And it also can be extended from simulation to emulation to FPGA prototyping, and even silicon validation.

I look forward to seeing you at DVCon Europe in Munich!  And if you have not yet registered, please do so to secure your seat.

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7 May, 2014

My Feb. 4 post introduced Mentor Graphics’ three-step FPGA verification process intended to help design teams get out of the reprogrammable lab more effectively. Since then, I’ve engaged FPGA vendors, design managers and engineers to explain the process, paying special attention to the merits and technical detail for injecting automation into any FPGA verification environment, the hallmark of Mentor’s process. The feedback from these conversations helped me to develop a series of technical webinars, now available for free and on-demand. Check them out and let us know what you think in the comments below. My hope is the webinars might serve as a starting point for your own conversations on verification of FPGAs, demand for which seems to continue to grow as process nodes shrink.

Injecting Automation into Verification – FPGA Market Trends

Injecting Automation into Verification – Code Coverage

Injecting Automation into Verification – Assertions

Injecting Automation into Verification – Improved Throughput

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4 February, 2014

Marketing teams at FPGA vendors have been busy as the silicon nanometer geometry race escalates. Altera is “delivering the unimaginable” while Xilinx is offering “all programmable SoCs” to design centers. It’s clear that the SoC has become more accessible to a broader market today and that FPGA vendors have staked out a solid technology roadmap for the near future. Do marketing messages surrounding the geometry race effect day to day life of engineers, and if so, how – especially when it comes to verification?
An excellent whitepaper from Altera, “The Breakthrough Advantage for FPGAs with Tri-Gate Technology,” covers Altera’s Stratix 10 FPGAs and SoCs. The paper describes verification challenges in this new expanded market this way: “Although current generation FPGAs require a rigorous simulation verification methodology rivaling ASICs, the additional lab testing and ability to reprogram FPGAs save substantial manpower investment. The overall cost of ownership must be considered when comparing an FPGA whose component price is higher than an ASIC of similar complexity.” I believe you can use this statement to engage your management in a discussion about better verification processes.

Xilinx also has excellent published technical resources. Its recent UltraScale backgrounder describes how they are solving the challenges in implementing a design with their reprogrammable silicon. Clearly Xilinx has made an impressive investment to make it easier to implement a design with its FPGA UltraScale products. Improvements include ASIC-like clocking and annealing dataflow bottlenecks without compromising performance. Xilinx also describes improvements when using its Vivado design suite, particularly when it comes to in-lab design bring up.

For other FPGA insights, it’s also worth checking out Electronics Engineering Journal’s recent article “Proliferating Programmability in 2014,” which claims that the long-term future of FPGAs tool flows even though, as Kevin Morris sees it, EDA seems to have abandoned the market. (Kevin, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong.)

Do you think it’s inevitable that your FPGA team will first struggle to make it across the verification finish line before adopting a more process-oriented verification flow like the ASIC market demands? It’s not. I base this conclusion on the many conversations I’ve had with FPGA designers, their managers, sales engineers and many other talented people in this market over the years. Yes, there are significant challenges in FPGA design, but not all of them are technology related. With some emotion, one engineer remarked that debugging the same type of issue over and over in the hardware lab and expecting a different outcome was insane. (He’s right.) Others say they need specific ROI information for their management to even accept their need for change. Still others state that had they only known the solutions I talked about in my seminar a year ago, they would have not spent months and months bringing up their design in the lab.
With my peers here at Mentor Graphics, I have developed a three-step verification flow that includes coverage, assertions and improved throughput. I’ll write about this flow and related issues in the weeks ahead here on this blog. The flow is built on fundamental verification technologies that benefit the broad FPGA market. The goal, in developing the technology and writing about it here, has been to provide practical solutions and help more FPGA teams cross the verification gap.

In the meantime, what are your stories? Are you able to influence your management into adopting advanced technology to aid lab bring-up? Is your management’s bias towards lower cost and faster implementation (at the expense of verification)? Let me know in the comments or, if you prefer, by e-mail: joe_rodriguez@mentor.com.

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5 August, 2013

Language and Library Trends

This blog is a continuation of a series of blogs that present the highlights from the 2012 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study (for a background on the study, click here).

In my previous blog (Part 7 click here), I focused on some of the 2012 Wilson Research Group findings related to testbench characteristics and simulation strategies. In this blog, I present design and verification language trends, as identified by the Wilson Research Group study.

You might note that for some of the language and library data I present, the percentage sums to more than one hundred percent. The reason for this is that some participants’ projects use multiple languages.

RTL Design Languages

Let’s begin by examining the languages used for RTL design. Figure 1 shows the trends in terms of languages used for design, by comparing the 2007 Far West Research study (in gray), the 2010 Wilson Research Group study (in blue), the 2012 Wilson Research Group study (in green), as well as the projected design language adoption trends within the next twelve months (in purple) as identified by the study participants. Note that the design language adoption is declining for most of the languages with the exception of SystemVerilog whose adoption continues to increase.

Also, it’s important to note that this study focused on languages used for RTL design. We have conducted a few informal studies related to languages used for architectural modeling—and it’s not too big of a surprise that we see increased adoption of C/C++ and SystemC in that space. However, since those studies have (thus far) been informal and not as rigorously executed as the Wilson Research Group study, I have decided to withhold that data until a more formal blind study can be executed related to architectural modeling and virtual prototyping.

Figure 1. Trends in languages used for Non-FPGA design

Let’s now look at the languages used specifically for FPGA RTL design. Figure 2 shows the trends in terms of languages used for FPGA design, by comparing the 2012 Wilson Research Group study (in red) with the projected design language adoption trends within the next twelve months (in purple).

Figure 2. Languages used for Non-FPGA design

It’s not too big of a surprise that VHDL is the predominant language used for FPGA RTL design, although we are starting to see increased interest in SystemVerilog.

Verification Languages

Next, let’s look at the languages used to verify Non-FPGA designs (that is, languages used to create simulation testbenches). Figure 3 shows the trends in terms of languages used to create simulation testbenches by comparing the 2007 Far West Research study (in gray), the 2010 Wilson Research Group study (in blue), and the 2012 Wilson Research Group study (in green).

Figure 3. Trends in languages used in verification to create Non-FPGA simulation testbenches

The study revealed that verification language adoption is declining for most of the languages with the exception of SystemVerilog whose adoption is increasing. In fact, SystemVerilog adoption increased by 8.3 percent between 2010 and 2012.

Figure 4 provides a different analysis of the data by partitioning the projects by design size, and then calculating the adoption of SystemVerilog for creating testbenches by size. The design size partitions are represented as: less than 5M gates, 5M to 20M gates, and greater than 20M gates. Obviously, we find that the larger the design size, the greater the adoption of SystemVerilog for creating testbenches. Yet, probably the most interesting observation we can make from examining Figure 4 is related to smaller designs that are less than 5M gates. Here we see that 58.8 percent of the industry has adopted SystemVerilog for verification. In other words, it is safe to say that SystemVerilog for verification has become mainstream today and not just limited to early adopters or leading-edge design projects.

Figure 4. SystemVerilog (for verification) adoption by design size

Let’s now look at the languages used specifically for FPGA RTL design. Figure 5 shows the trends in terms of languages used for FPGA design, by comparing the 2012 Wilson Research Group study (in red) with the projected design language adoption trends within the next twelve months (in purple).

Figure 5. Trends in languages used in verification to create FPGA simulation testbenches

In my next blog (click here), I’ll continue the discussion on design and verification language trends as revealed by the 2012 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study.

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23 April, 2013

This is the first in a series of blogs that presents the results from the 2012 Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Study.

Study Overview

In 2002 and 2004, Ron Collett International, Inc. conducted its well known ASIC/IC functional verification studies, which provided invaluable insight into the state of the electronic industry and its trends in design and verification. However, after the 2004 study, no other industry studies were conducted, which left a void in identifying industry trends.

To address this void, Mentor Graphics commissioned Far West Research to conduct an industry study on functional verification in the fall of 2007. Then in the fall of 2010, Mentor commissioned Wilson Research Group to conduct another functional verification study. Both of these studies were conducted as blind studies to avoid influencing the results. This means that the survey participants did not know that the study was commissioned by Mentor Graphics. In addition, to support trend analysis on the data, both studies followed the same format and questions (when possible) as the original 2002 and 2004 Collett studies.

In the fall of 2012, Mentor Graphics commissioned Wilson Research Group again to conduct a new functional verification study. This study was also a blind study and follows the same format as the Collett, Far West Research, and previous Wilson Research Group studies. The 2012 Wilson Research Group study is one of the largest functional verification studies ever conducted. The overall confidence level of the study was calculated to be 95% with a margin of error of 4.05%.

Unlike the previous Collett and Far West Research studies that were conducted only in North America, both the 2010 and 2012 Wilson Research Group studies were worldwide studies. The regions targeted were:

  • North America:Canada,United States
  • Europe/Israel:Finland,France,Germany,Israel,Italy,Sweden,UK
  • Asia (minusIndia):China,Korea,Japan,Taiwan
  • India

The survey results are compiled both globally and regionally for analysis.

Another difference between the Wilson Research Group and previous industry studies is that both of the Wilson Research Group studies also included FPGA projects. Hence for the first time, we are able to present some emerging trends in the FPGA functional verification space.

Figure 1 shows the percentage makeup of survey participants by their job description. The red bars represents the FPGA participants while the green bars represent the non-FPGA (i.e., IC/ASIC) participants.

 

Figure 1: Survey participants job title description

Figure 2 shows the percentage makeup of survey participants by company type. Again, the red bars represents the FPGA participants while the green bars represents the non-FPGA (i.e., IC/ASIC) participants.

Figure 2: Survey participants company description

In a future set of blogs, over the course of the next few months, I plan to present the highlights from the 2012 Wilson Research Group study along with my analysis, comments, and obviously, opinions. A few interesting observations emerged from the study, which include:

  1. FPGA projects are beginning to adopt advanced verification techniques due to increased design complexity.
  2. The effort spent on verification is increasing.
  3. The industry is converging on common processes driven by maturing industry standards.

A few final comments concerning the 2012 Wilson Research Group Study.  As I mentioned, the study was based on the original 2002 and 2004 Collett studies.  To ensure consistency in terms of proper interpretation (or potential error related to mis-interpretation of the questions), we have avoided changing or modifying the questions over the years—with the exception of questions that relate to shrinking geometries sizes and gate counts. One other exception relates  introducing a few new questions related to verification techniques that were not a major concern ten years ago (such as low-power functional verification).  Ensuring consistency in the line of questioning enables us to have high confidence in the trends that emerge over the years.

Also, the method in which the study pools was created follows the same process as the original Collett studies.  It is important to note that the data presented in this series of blogs does not represent trends related to silicon volume (that is, a few projects could dominate in terms of the volume of manufactured silicon and not represent the broader industry).  The data in this series of blogs represents trends related to the study pool—which is a fair proxy for active design projects.

My next blog presents current design trends that were identified by the survey. This will be followed by a set of blogs focused on the functional verification results.

Also, to learn more about the 2012 Wilson Reserach Group study, view my pre-recorded Functional Verification Study web-seminar, which is located out on the Verification Academy website.

Quick links to the 2012 Wilson Research Group Study results (so far…)

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24 January, 2013

VHDL-2008 Explained Via 7 Course Modules

For some time now a dedicated group of engineers have defined and standardized an important update to the VHDL standard.  Also know as IEEE Std. 1076™-2008, this update to VHDL took an interesting path to get to where it is today.  The VHDL standards team started the standards development work in the IEEE but sought additional input and standards project funding from industry.  Accellera provided a good venue in which to get industry input and feedback for an update to the VHDL standard along with funding.  Once industry input was taken into account, the proposed update to VHDL, approved by Accellera, was returned to the IEEE for official standards ratification and ongoing maintenance.  Jim Lewis, the IEEE VHDL Working Group Chair, points out this is the greatest update to VHDL since VHDL 93.  And I agree.  Jim is also the subject matter expert for the VHDL-2008 course modules on Verification Academy mentioned in this blog.

Verification Academy Modules

VHDL 2008In less than an hour and half – over 7 course modules – Jim will layout out the additions and changes to VHDL-2008 to simplify the language and extend it to address more of your pressing design and verification challenges with the addition of reusable data structures, simplified RTL coding and the inclusion of fixed and floating point math packages.

As part of my role in international standardization as co-convenor of the IEC TC 93 WG2 (now known as IEC TC 91 WG 13) and in keeping with the IEEE/IEC dual-logo agreement, I helped complete the dual logo process for this version of VHDL in 2011.  VHDL-2008 is also now known as IEC 61691-1-1-2011 – Behavioural languages – Part 1-1: VHDL Language Reference Manual.  I think we can all agree that that name is a bit much that we can simply call it VHDL-2008.

With this round of standardization complete, the VHDL-2008 course modules arrive just as complete support for VHDL-2008 emerges here at Mentor Graphics in our ModelSim and Questa products.

I encourage and invite VHDL users to get acquainted with VHDL-2008 via the seven course modules on Verification Academy.  Verification Academy “Full Access” membership is required.  And it is easy to sign up (certain restrictions apply).  For a quick look at what the courses offer, the introduction page found here will show you more details about the following modules.

“VHDL-2008 Why It Matters” Modules
  • VHDL 2008 Overview
  • RTL Enhancement
  • Package Type Enhancements
  • Floating Point Package
  • Testbench Enhancements
  • Operator Enhancements
  • Fixed Point Package

Additional Reference Material

There is additional reference material you may wish to have to get the most out of VHDL-2008.  Here is my short list:

  • IEEE Std. 1076-2008 Language Reference Manual (Click here)
  • VHDL-2008: Just the New Stuff (Click here)
  • The Designer’s Guide to VHDL, Third Edition (Click here)

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28 August, 2012

Five Leading Global Organizations Affirm “The Modern Paradigm for Standards”

open-standThe EDA industry has seen changes to the international standards paradigm the past few decades. When industry helped launch VHDL with the help of government support, it transferred ongoing maintenance and enhancement to the IEEE when it completed its first version. In addition to anchoring the standard at the IEEE, collaboration with the IEC for international standardization and recognition with the one-country, one-vote process set the stage for international approval of VHDL.

In the early days of Verilog, I encouraged similar support for that IEEE standard. But its support was not immediate and to some may have failed to track the pace of support by industry. Indeed, with Accellera developing SystemVerilog, later to become an IEEE standard and IEC standard, what was missing was the close link between a global industrial community and the international setting in which the standard was developed and deployed.

In the case of SystemVerilog, global markets drove the international deployment of the standard without respect to its formal status. Indeed, on what was called the “birthday” of SystemVerilog in Japan, the day it was approved as an official IEEE standard, the Japanese National Committee on standards hosted an open celebration that I was invited to attend. There was no waiting on their part the formal status. The interdependencies of global design, global commerce and global partnerships have driven all of us to adapt the standards development process for EDA.

On the eve of OpenStand’s launch, it is good to see the IEEE, Internet Society, W3C, IAB and IETF come together to put in writing what is the emerging practice for EDA.

You can learn more about the supporters of OpenStand, their guiding principles and how you can give your input, comments and feedback by visiting their website at http://open-stand.org. And if you agree, you can even “stand” with them; with me; with us.

But in short, OpenStand promotes a standards development model that demands:

 
  • cooperation among standards organization;
  • adherence to due process, broad consensus, transparency, balance and openness in standards development;
  • commitment to technical merit, interoperability, competition, innovation and benefit to humanity;
  • availability of standards to all; and
  • voluntary adoption.

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5 December, 2011

The DASC Participates in IEEE Standards Association Gala Event

The IEEE Computer Society Design Automation Standards Committee (DASC) participated in the annual IEEE Standards Association (SA) Award ceremony held in New Brunswick, NJ USA  on 4 December 2011.  Hundreds met to recognize the work of thousands who volunteer daily to develop standards and to honor the few who are exceptional examples.

The DASC recognized Larry Saunders as its “Ron Waxman Design Automation Standards Committee Meritorious Service Award” recipient.  Larry was recognized “for pioneering the standardization of VHDL that fundamentally changed the electronic system design process.”

As someone who has worked with Larry on and off over the years to promote the use of VHDL, I know firsthand he is very deserving of this recognition and it was a pleasure to be present as he, one of the renowned VHDL fathers, was given this award.  Yatin Trivedi, vice-chair of the DASC and director of standards at Synopsys gave a glowing tribute to Larry, not just from his DASC leadership role, but as a colleague, friend and mentor.

Pearl & Ron Waxman, myself, Larry Saunders, April Mitchell, Yatin Trevidi and Karen Bartleson from the DASC pose for a photo after the ceremony.

In addition to the “Ron Waxman” award, the IEEE-SA Working Group Chair Awards were also officially recognized.  From the DASC, two of the working groups completed standards development and published their work and a few members of each of those groups were given Working Group Chair awards.

1076.1.1™-2010 IEEE Standard for VHDL Analog and Mixed-Signal Extensions – Packages for Multiple Energy Domain Support
Tom Alderton, Peter J. Ashendon, Ernst Christen, David W. Smith

1647™-2011 IEEE Standard for the Functional Verification Language e
Mike Bartley, Darren Galpin, Amy Witherow

Yatin’s citation for the Ron Waxman Award, Ron’s additional background on Larry’s contributions and Larry’s acceptance video can be seen below.  The microphone was a bit away from the speakers and it was recorded at some distance from the speakers so the sound may be a bit hard to hear unless you use headphones.  But for those who were not there and might like to see it, it is offered for you.

Larry Saunders Accepts DASC Ron Waxman Meritorious Service Award

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22 July, 2011

Historical Perspective

In my early days of standards development, I was intrigued how a standard went from the development phase to use phase.  New standards were heralded with great fanfare but were also followed very quickly with books and other material to allow the “mere mortal” to understand what the IEEE standards prose meant and how best to use it.  Everyone had their favorite VHDL book and I think I have them all!

What was clear to me was the IEEE standard was not sufficient to practice or understand the standard.  After all, examples were few and far between in the standard.  And even if there were examples in the standard, you were reminded that they are not part of the official standard – or in standards-speak – they are nonnormative.

User groups were popular too and continue to be today.   VHDL International (now Accellera) had this notion of local VHDL user group chapters.  When it came time to drive adoption of the VHDL gate-level library standard (known as VITAL), I attended several user group meetings to share details on how to use the new standard.  I even solicited the support of a VHDL notable to put together a seminar series that would help ASIC library makers build their libraries.  We took the seminar around the world and met with all the top ASIC suppliers.  We even took our product that implemented the standard to the Cloud – while we did not call it the Cloud at the time.  We had a model validation service in the early days of the internet that could be used to run training examples to validate ones own understanding or even test models and concepts to see if they would work.  Free evaluation software was still a thing of the future then.  As one byproduct of that work, we did have one competitor inundate us with the 1000’s of VHDL tests.  We did throttle back their access to be fair to the others.  But at that time, we left few ideas unexplored on how to drive global use and adoption of that standard.

Lessons Learned

What I understood was crossing the chasm from standards development to practicing the standard meant we had to build the knowledge, expertise and confidence in the user community to help them accept the standard and adopt it.  I also learned that the standards developing organizations were not the best equipped to help practice the standard.  The simple reason for this is the SDO is in place to bring together competitors to collaborate on the development of the standard but not foster competition on algorithms to best use the standard.  This is perhaps better said by Synopsys’ Karen Bartleson in her “First Commandment for Effective Standards: Cooperate on Standards; Compete on Tools.”

Today’s Challenges with UVM & OVM

We are at that chasm with Open Verification Methodology (OVM) and the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) today.  While some may suggest OVM & UVM sit in a homogenous world where it works the same everywhere, the effective practice of the standards is anything but that.  There are competitive options for users to explore and they are not ideas best promoted by a standards group.  Mentor’s Mark Olen points out the value of an advanced method to generate stimulus rather than relying on the methods built into OVM & UVM in his recent blog post.  Mark shows how a user gains 10x-100x  in efficiency all the while doing this from within their OVM or UVM testbench.

Mentor has thought long and hard about how to best get this information to users and how to help them practice OVM and UVM better than they can if they only had access to the lowest common denominator of information.  We first did a blind survey to see what methodology the design and verification community was using now and what they were going to use 12 months from now to validate our focus on OVM and UVM.  Mentor’s Harry Foster has shared a lot of detailed information on this already.  If you have not read his blog postings on this yet, you should start with his prologue that outlines the survey.

Survey Says:

The survey clearly showed that UVM was in its ascendency and OVM was going to maintain strong and growing domination into 2012.  Other survey results also clearly point out that SystemVerilog is the language of choice.  While the survey shows what the user is doing, the standards developers were all collaborating on UVM and giving little time to OVM.

A Little Attention Goes a Long Way

While users were focused on continued use of OVM and planning for major move to UVM in 2012, the community developing standards had all but shifted to UVM, seemingly abandoning OVM.  OVM was in need of care and attention given its dominant position in planned and future use.

Mentor stepped into the breach and has brought OVM into a strong, user-centric home that preserves the OVM World openness and augments it with several levels of additional user benefits in the Verification Academy.  It also joins OVM and UVM in a single location that would not be appropriate in a standards body.  After all, UVM is the standard from Accellera, not OVM.  The Verification Academy also opens the cross pollination of ideas between the OVM and UVM users so one group can learn from another.  We also brought the SystemVerilog User Group (SVUG) into the forum as well since OVM and UVM are based on the SystemVerilog language.

As we brought all these groups together, we did get many questions about Verification Academy Access Levels.  First off, we dropped the OVM World requirement to register to download OVM.  UVM and VMM were allowing anonymous downloads, so we made it the same for OVM.  Of the 15,000+ OVM World registrants, most registered to download OVM.  Just as OVM can now be downloaded without registration, the forums can be accessed in read-only mode without registration as well.

For those who used their OVM World registration to post on the forum, we moved them to “Forum Only Access” members so they could continue their posting privileges.   The highest level of membership is “Academy Total Access.”  Membership at this level is restricted to those who give a valid business profile.  It enables access to training material, courses and lessons to help build SystemVerilog, OVM and UVM skills.  It also allows users to gain knowledge about the advance algorithms that can help them get the 10x-100x or more out of OVM and UVM over conventional use.  Below is a table of Verification Academy membership levels and privileges:

Level Privileges
Observer Read-Only Forum Access.  Free OVM/UVM kit download. No registration required.
Forum Only Access Post to Forum and contributions area. Registration with any credentials required.
Academy Total Access Total access.  All academy areas open for free use.  Registration with valid business profile.

The response to this has been outstanding.  While we strongly urge those who wish to develop the UVM standard to visit www.accellera.org and its www.uvmworld.org site to monitor that work, Verification Academy seems to have a much larger community of users with which to interact.  And we will keep the Verification Academy current with the most recent versions of OVM and UVM.  As of late July 2011 we recorded the following statistics.

Forum Members
Verification Academy Forum 5,476
UVM World Forum 685
VMM Central Forum 696

We look forward to continue to develop the site and add to the richness of its content and continue to improve your experience with it.  Your comments on how we can improve it are always welcome.

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