Posted by Alex Seibulescu on October 25, 2010
Metric Driven Verification, Coverage Driven Verification, in one form or another everybody is talking about the same thing so I thought about asking my friend how he likes to be in the driver seat. With a sheepish grin he replied that it depends whether he gets to drive a Trabant or a BMW. Both German cars mind you, but… So that got me thinking. Lately, we all have been talking up methodologies, verification plans, intelligent testbenches, guiding metrics, assertion densities, etc., etc. Now these are all great topics and we definitely need to keep nurturing them however, one rather important detail seems to have slipped out of the conversation and that is the good ole’ workhorse of every verification flow, the simulator. For no matter how careful we design our testing strategies, how cleverly we place our coverage targets and how many assertions we sprinkle around the design, we still rely on the simulator to get us to our destination. Whether we define our destination as squashing every bug in sight or meeting ever shrinking delivery timelines, it will be the reliability and performance of the simulator that will save the day. From his great driver vantage point, my friend confessed that while having a GPS to tell him where he is, an intelligent radio to alert him on traffic jams, and an on-board computer to report instant gas mileage are all great assets, once he gets on the Autobahn and the pedal hits the metal, there is nothing like driving the fastest car on the road. So much for car advice.
As I enviously looked at my friend speeding away in his 3 letter simulation-mobile I was once again reminded that in the end without unrelenting technology improvements and meticulous engineering of the engine, whatever we build on top of it will make little difference. No matter how skilled a driver he may be, it will take my friend much longer to reach his destination.
"Coverage is by now pervasive in most verification flows but has in the modest opinion of this blogger, yet to reach its full potential. Although I have spent most of my 18 years in EDA (ouch!) on the R&D side, I have always been a good listener to our customers' concerns. My hope is that this blog will be an informal venue for all of us to explore how to push the benefits of Coverage and related methodologies to new levels" —Alex Seibulescu