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Verification Joins the Adults’ Table

Adam Sherer, Group Director, Product Management, System & Verification Group, Cadence

As we plan for our family gatherings this holiday season, it’s time to welcome Verification to the adults’ table. Design and Implementation are already at the table, having established their own families consisting of architects with the comprehensive experience to manage the overall flow and specialists who provide the deep knowledge needed to make each project succeed. Verification has matured with the realization that it needs its own family of architects and specialists that have the experience and knowledge to rapidly and repeatedly verify complex projects.

Figure 1 The family table

This maturation of Verification occurred as complexity drove the need for the architect’s role. Designs pushed through a billion gates and systems grew their functional dependency on the fusion of analog, software, digital, and power. Meanwhile, the teams verifying these designs became distributed around the globe. A holistic view of verification became necessary and it was rooted in a more rigorous verification planning process. When we listen to the architect at our holiday dinner this year, we’ll hear how she wished for and got verification management automation with Cadence’s vManager solution. In order to close her verification plan, she needs to reuse verification IP (VIP), specify new Cadence VIP protocols, and direct the internal development of new VIP running on a range of verification engines. She also realizes that traditional methods will not scale to complex scenarios that must be verified across the complete SoC, so she is excited by the new portable stimulus standard work in Accellera and is piloting a project using Cadence’s Perspec System Verifier to gain an efficiency edge over her company’s competitors.

Design and Implementation were impressed by the automation that Verification was able to access. They asked Verification if that meant she had resources to spare for their families. She couldn’t help but laugh but then calmed down and explained how her family is growing with the specialists needed to implement the verification plans. She also discussed how those experts are actually already working with experts from Design and Implementation to achieve verification closure.

Figure 2 The Cadence Verification Family

Verification is a multi-engine, multi-abstraction, multi-domain task that starts and finishes with the entire development team. At the start of development, design experts and verification experts apply JasperGold formal analysis with coverage to both raise quality and mark the block-level features as verified in the overall plan. UVM experts then step in to complete comprehensive IP/subsystem verification using high-performance digital and mixed-signal simulation with the Incisive Enterprise Simulator. While the randomization and four-state simulation is critical at this stage, the UVM testbench can consume as much as 50% of the simulation time, which lengthens runtime as the project moves to subsystem and SoC integration. The verification experts then apply acceleration techniques to reduce time spent in the testbench, develop new scenarios with the Perspec System Verifier to enable fast four-state RTL simulation with the Cadence RocketSim Parallel Simulation Engine, and accelerate with the Cadence Palladium Z1 Enterprise Emulation System. As the project moves to the performance, capacity, coverage, and accessibility of the Palladium Z1 engine, new experts are able to address system features dependent on bare metal software and in-circuit data. Since the end customer interacts with the system through application software, the verification experts work with software teams using Cadence Protium Rapid Prototyping Platform, which provides the performance needed to support the verification needs of this team. With all of these experts around the world, the verification architect explains that she needs fabrics that enable them to communicate. She uses the Cadence Indago Debug Platform and vManager to provide unified debug across the engines, and multi-engine metrics to help her automate the verification plan. More and more of the engines provide verification metrics like coverage from simulation and emulation that can be merged together and rolled up to the vManager solution. Even the implementation teams are working together with the verification experts to simulate post PG netlists using the Incisive Enterprise Simulator XL and RocketSim solutions, enabling final signoff on the project.

As Design and Implementation pass dessert around the table, they are very impressed with Verification. They’ve seen the growing complexity in their own families and have been somewhat perplexed by how verification gets done. Verification has talked about new tools, standards, and methodologies for years, and they assumed those productivity enhancements meant that verification engineers could remain generalists by accessing more automation. Hearing more about the breadth and depth of the verification challenge has helped them realize that that there is an absolute need for a complete verification family with architects and experts. Raising a toast to the newest member of the electronic design adults’ table, the family knows that 2017 is going to be a great year.

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