Posts Tagged ‘verification’

Interesting product developments at DAC

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Dave Bursky

Many interesting IP and design verification announcements were one of the key topics running through this year’s Design Automation Conference. Several IP announcements from CAST Inc., for example, offer solutions in video decoding, graphics acceleration, and image decoding. Although developed by the Fraunhofer Henrich Hertz Institute, a H.265 HVEC decoder core is now available from CAST, and it is the first in a series of high-efficiency video coding cores that CAST will offer. The core implements the MPI-D main profile intra HVEC decoding and will be available in the third quarter of this year. The decoder design makes clever use of internal and external memory and its application-specific internal memory architecture enables the core to reuse already fetched data, thus reducing the number of memory fetches. Fewer fetches give more memory bus bandwidth back to the CPU, while at the same time reducing the power needed by the core.

Another core offered by CAST that was developed by IP partner Think Silicon, saves energy in graphics applications by offloading a GPU or a CPU that does not include GPU support. The Think2.5D graphics accelerator is a rendering engine that accelerates two-dimensional graphics functions and pseudo three-dimensional effects such as reflected and shadowed icons. The engine significantly offloads a system’s GPU, performing the calculations at a reduced power level. And for systems without a GPU, the core can offload the host CPU and accelerate the calculations, providing a “snappier” feel to the screen operations –and at lower power consumption levels. Also available from CAST is a graphics processing unit that was also created by Think Silicon. The ThinkVG core supports the Khronos Group OpenVG 1.1 standard, and CAST claims it is one of the smallest and lowest power GPU cores available. Inside the core is a floating-point SIMD streaming engine specifically designed for graphics applications (Vshader) plus graphic accelerators for the blending, rasterization, and texture-mapping functions.

For still images, Alma Technologies, another CAST partner developed a 12-bit extended-resolution JPEG decoder, the JPEG-D-X, that CAST supports. The core supports applications requiring images with greater dynamic range, such as in medical imaging and machine vision. Able to decode static images or motion JPEG streams compressed in Baseline or Extended JPEG formats with 8-or 12-bits per sample precision. The decoder complements the company’s previously-release 12-bit JPEG encoder, and provides efficient, low-latency decompression do deep color images and video with a tiny silicon footprint and low power consumption.

It’s not often tool vendors will offer a free version of one of their new tools, but Agnisys has done just that – free versions of DVinsight, a correct-by-construction tool for design and verification applications. The tool is an integrated development environment for he development of Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) based System Verilog (SV) design verification (DV) code. DVinsight ensures compliance with best practices in using UVM while adhering to established standards. The tool provides on-the-fly checks and guides for creating SV/UVM code, provides auto code completion, context-based hints and includes many built-in rules to ensure correct-by-construction DV code development.

Another newcomer in the DV space is SmartDV North America, the U.S. arm of SmartDV Technologies India Private Ltd. The company provides well-supported verification IP blocks that include compliance test suites and complete functional coverage models that help accelerate time to market. The verification models are generated by the company’s internally developed compiler technology, which allows the company to rapidly generate the verification IP and tweak the IP very rapidly (in days rather than weeks) if customers need any customization or a bug must be corrected. Also offering verification IP, TrueChip provides support for USB 3, various versions of ARM’s AMBA bus, and will shortly have the new USB 3.1 verification IP.
Additional DAC product updates will appear in the next column.

Notable Analog Tool Advances Boost Designer Productivity

Monday, June 18th, 2012

This year’s Design Automation Conference, recently held in San Francisco, CA, highlighted many advances in analog and digital circuit design tools, but in the analog and mixed-signal world many designers are hesitant to give up tried and true manual design techniques to implement their circuits. They feel analog design is still more of an art than a science and that most of the available tools can’t really come close to what a good analog designer can do. However, after hearing the pitches from several new and existing vendors of analog and mixed-signal design tools at this year’s DAC, I suspect many analog designers will be tempted to adopt some of the new tools to improve their productivity.

Although the major EDA tool suppliers–Cadence, Mentor and Synopsys—all have strong suites of analog and mixed signal design tools, smaller, highly-innovative companies are also crafting both suites of tools that cover the entire design flow, and vertical tools that solve specific problems. For those of you who didn’t make it to this years, DAC, here is a sampling of some of the new tools that support analog design.

Taking a “correct-by-construction” approach to analog IP delivery, newcomer Analog Rails from Chandler, AZ ( offers an automated, parasitic-aware tool that they claim will significantly reduce support costs and schedule creep, and can deliver high-yield analog and mixed signal IP in hours rather than days, weeks, or months. The tools include a synchronized schematic and layout editor that allows designers to capture the complete design intent, including constraints, capacitance, and voltage back-annotation. The Analog Rails tool is also simulator agnostic, and includes the TSMC-approved MSIM simulator, infinite GnuCapplus Licenses, and can easily integrate any HSPICE compatible simulator into the flow.

Another fairly new face at DAC, Symica of San Jose, CA ( offers a suite of EDA tools for analog and mixed-signal IC design – from schematic capture to circuit simulation and layout. The tool suite handles analog, and analog behavioral and digital mixed-mode simulation in a flexible simulation environment. The tools also accept inputs from HSPICE- and Spectre-compatible netlists, and incorporate a powerful waveform viewer and analog-simulation result analyzer. This waveform tool offers all the functions designers expect (viewing results for TRAN, DC, AC, Sweep, Monte Carlo; customizable views of multiple plots; and may other features) and employs a simple-to-use graphical interface. A free version of the tool, Symica FE, allows users to try out most of the features on circuits with fewer than 500 transistors; however the free version does not support mixed-signal and Fast-SPICE simulation.

One of the trickiest aspects of analog circuit design is the placement of the devices and the routing to interconnect them. Taking aim at that aspect of design, Pulsic Inc. of San Jose (, offers a place-and-route solution for analog and custom digital design. The Pulsic Planning Solution builds on the work of last year’s planning tool released by the company, and offers easy-to-use guided flows to automatically implement precise, hand-crafted quality design layouts. The company’s Unity Analog Router delivers DRC-correct routing and completes routing patterns and topologies that an experienced analog designer would create when routing the layout by hand.

Adding analog prototyping to their tool suite, SpringSoft Inc. from Hsinchu, Taiwan ( showed off the Laker Analog Prototyping tool . The tool provides early feedback on the impact of layout parasitic and other layout-dependent effects, which can be particularly challenging to manage at the 20 nm process node. Key features include “smart” placement techniques that automatically generate multiple DRC-correct and routable options, hierarchical structure to handle thousands of transistors, and full support for a complete range of industry-standard parameterized device formatted, including MCells, PyCells, C++ PCells, and Tcl PCells.

Additionally, the tool enables automated constraint generation, layout exploration, and rapid implementation in a single flow. Built into the company’s Laker SDL flow, the analog prototyping tool automates the process of analyzing advanced process effects and generating constraints to guide circuit layout. The company claims that it results in a more-predictable design cycle and improves productivity with less time wasted on post-layout design adjustments when compared to convention design methods.

Another analog floorplanning tool demonstrated by JEDAT (Japan EDA Technologies) of Tokyo, Japan ( enables analog layout designers to automatically build accurate analog floorplans. The software includes constraint extraction and management, layout netlist with tuning from the circuit netlist, and analog block placement. The company claims the tool can deliver a fivefold improvement in layout efficiency while the layouts are high-quality and accurate thanks to multiconstraint-driven flexible layout hierarchy and flexible block boundaries. Additionally, the company has achieved a three to five time improvement in design time, as reported by over ten customers.

Design verification for analog circuits is the goal of the Analog+ suite of tools from Solido Design ( ). The tool provide rapid interactive device sizing with MonteCarlo accuracy, three-sigma statistical corners that truly bound analog performance, and final verification across all corners with a 2 to 10X speedup. Using adaptive machine-learning techniques the Analog+ Suite can complete tasks with fewer simulations compared to the hundreds of thousands of simulations typically required. The Monte Carlo+ tool in the suite is claimed by Solido to be the only EDA tool that can actually extract 3σ statistical corners. The patent-pending algorithm is fast, accurate, and scales up to tens of thousands of devices and beyond.

Dave Bursky
Technology Editor
Chip Design Magazine

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