Agile Design Evaluation

Early, automated design code verification without simulation stimulus for rapid design iterations

The early elimination of bugs in an IC development process saves time and energy. This places pressure on component designers to perform more verification. However, given traditional simulation-based verification techniques, the ultimate result of this trend is designers spending more time creating stimulus and getting involved with overall verification, and less on creative design.

OneSpin’s Design Evaluation Solution enables closed-loop agile hardware design iterations without the need to write test stimuli, removing burdensome aspects of verification from the designers.

Why Agile Hardware Design?

The Agile software development movement has proposed a more interactive development methodology, in an attempt to restore creativity and reduce administrative boundaries. Agile suggests an interactive model where designers create, quickly test, and integrate small, valuable code sections. These ideas translate well into the IC hardware design process in general, but require new thinking in terms of verification techniques.

Today, design teams employ varying solutions to get their code right. These include manual inspection, Linting tools to highlight possible coding issues, and both interactive and batch simulation. Simulation allows design operation to be observed but requires a fair amount of setup and testbench creation. Linting reduces set-up overhead, and performs a useful but relatively “dumb” check that highlights possible errors, requiring sifting through lots of data to identify real issues.

Agile Hardware Design Process

What is required is a verification solution with a low setup and usage overhead that demonstrates design operation without stimulus creation, automatically tracks real design issues without pages of false negative results, and allows code optimizations to be checked at the push of a button.

Using formal technology as an enabler, OneSpin’s Design Evaluation solution provides:

  • The ability to witness and observe design operation with no or little stimulus, graphical manipulation or scenario setup. Allows a designer to see what is going on in the code, quickly and effortlessly. Test creation is automated for later simulation, if necessary.
  • Static design inspection to check for a number of issues at a formal level, examining code operation for real problems rather than code syntax for possible issues. Saves hours of log file analysis while detecting tougher bugs.
  • Sequential RTL comparison, which checks that a code update for optimization or style improvement, has not changed design functionality. Reduces additional simulation overhead.
  • Other automated apps to ensure correct protocol usage, X state elimination after reset, etc. simplifying specific time consuming tasks.

More Information:

  • OneSpin Product Pages for 360 DV-Inspect, 360 DV-Verify and 360 EC-RTL
  • Formal Verification Enables Agile RTL Development
    • "We had a positive experience in adopting formal verification within a RTL development process that implemented Agile-recommended practices in a localized, low-risk fashion. This approach appears to be an effective and pragmatic way to improve the RTL development process by harnessing some of the benefits of Agile." Sergio Marchese, Verification consultant at TeraStatic.
    • Full article at TechDesign Forum
  • Why Agile Is A Good Fit For ASIC and FPGA Development
    • "The incremental approach allows for feedback between teams far, far sooner than would typically happen using a waterfall approach. The feedback exchanged between teams that are working toward the same goals simultaneously gives many more opportunities to clarify design intent and holds far less potential for long schedule slips." Neil Johnson, Principal Consultant – XtremeEDA Corp., Bryan Morris, VP Engineering – XtremeEDA Corp.
    • Full article at
  • Are we too Hard for Agile?
    • "Agile development techniques are now sweeping through the software community transforming the way we develop software. But apart from a few isolated reports the hardware community has been largely untouched by this revolution." François Cerisier and Mike Bartley, Test and Verification Solutions.
    • Full article at Design & Reuse
  • Agile hardware development – nonsense or necessity?
    • "While there are obvious differences between software development and hardware development, there are also significant similarities. The key for hardware developers is to resist getting caught up with the differences and to instead focus on the similarities. Doing so makes it hard to argue that the values of the agile manifesto and agile practices could not be used to achieve the same benefits that software developers have been realizing for years." Neil Johnson, Principal Consultant at XtremeEDA Corp.
    • Full article at EE Times
  • The Agile Manifesto & The Agile Principles 

Get in touch!

Learn more about agile design evaluation with OneSpin!

portrait of Sven Beyer

Sven Beyer, Product Manager Design Verification

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