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Complete Formal Verification of RISC V Processor IPs for Trojan-Free Trusted ICs
Abstract—RISC-V processor IPs are increasingly being integrated into system-on-chip designs for a variety of applications. However, there is still a lack of dedicated functional verification solutions supporting high-integrity, trusted integrated circuits. This paper examines an efficient, novel, formal-based RISC-V processor verification methodology. The RISC-V ISA is formalized in a set of Operational SystemVerilog assertions. Each assertion is formally verified against the processor’s RTL model. Crucially, the set of assertions is then mathematically proven to be complete and free from gaps, thus ensuring that all possible RTL behaviors have been examined. This systematic verification process detects both deliberate hardware Trojans and genuine functional errors present in the RTL code. The solution is demonstrated on an open-source RISC-V implementation using a commercially available formal tool, and is arguably a significant improvement to previously published RISC-V ISA verification approaches, advancing hardware assurance and trust of RISC-V based designs.
Design Verification Is All About Good Hygiene
Design verification has a lot in common with human hygiene practices. The goal of both activities is to remove all dirt, grime, and bugs through an active process of establishing good hygiene. If this process is not followed properly, the result is viruses, infections, and other illnesses. Good verification hygiene is as important in semiconductor development as human hygiene is for a healthy body. This white paper discusses the different stages of verification hygiene and what kind of issues can be detected and corrected at each stage. Any design change requires it to be sanitized to eliminate any bugs introduced. A rinsing phase can detect more serious problems, while a deep scrub of the design removes corner-case bugs.
Shifting the Burden of Tool Safety Compliance from Users to Vendors
Functional safety standards demand that this risk be assessed and adequately minimized through tool qualification and other processes. For engineering teams, this is a time-consuming task and, worryingly, one for which there are no mature solutions yet. Tool vendors may provide safety certificates or packages, in an attempt to support their customers with safety compliance. Strategies vary and so do the benefits to the user and project.
In this paper, we review requirements on tool classification and qualification, present different safety compliance strategies, and explain their benefits to safety-critical hardware projects.
The Rise and Fall of Synthesis Bugs in Safety-Critical FPGAs
Functional safety standards require a rigorous development process to minimize the risk of introducing systematic faults. Some RTL issues may only reveal themselves as bugs in the synthesis netlist. Additionally, synthesis tools manipulate the design to map it into the fixed FPGA structure. These complex transformations present a high risk of introducing bugs. Gate-level simulation and lab testing can only cover a tiny portion of the FPGA functionality and are likely to miss implementation bugs. Moreover, they are slow to run and challenging to debug.
This white paper presents an implementation signoff flow proving that the final FPGA netlist is functionally equivalent to the RTL model. Based on FPGA-specific, mature formal verification technology, the solution is exhaustive and efficient, catching many issues before synthesis starts.
Using Formal to Verify Safety-Critical Hardware for ISO 26262
Automotive technology has come a long way since the days of the Ford Model T. Today's smart vehicles not only assist their drivers with tasks such as parking, lane management, and braking, but also function as a home away from home, with WiFi hotspots and sophisticated entertainment systems. These sophisticated features are made possible by increasingly complex electronic systems—systems that present countless new opportunities for things to go wrong. A defective headrest video screen may be an irritation to a young passenger in the back seat, but a malfunctioning corrective steering system could cost the occupants of the vehicle their lives. Adequate verification is essential.
OneSpin's formal verification solutions can help automotive suppliers continue to advance their technology while keeping drivers and passengers safe. Our safety-critical white paper examines the ISO 26262 automotive standard and makes a case for its indispensability.
When correct is not enough – Formal verification of fault-tolerant hardware
Fault-tolerant hardware development is no longer a niche and presents new challenges. Many engineers face the daunting task of having to examine countless faulty variants of their design in order to integrate and verify multiple safety mechanisms within complex Systems-on-Chip (SoCs).
This white paper examines key goals and challenges in fault-tolerant hardware verification, and presents formal solutions that ensure predictable hardware behavior under all relevant operating conditions and fault scenarios, while saving in engineering and computational resources.