InFormal Chat


Progression in formal verification – last decade…..

If you have been watching/following the activities in the formal verification domain, you may have noticed an undeniable shift in the market over the last few years.

Let’s a take a brief look at the formal verification user-base from a historic perspective. About 10 years ago, when I was naïve entrepreneur struggling with my own EDA start-up, the formal verification market was also struggling to establish itself as an effective and broadly-applicable verification solution. Back then, few people in the world knew where and how to apply formal tools successfully. These folks were viewed as “wizards”. Folks who often had the 3-letters P H D next to their names, talked about SAT solvers and engines (no not the college entrance exam or the what’s under your car’s hood) and did some fancy tricks to get “proofs” that nobody really understood (nor trusted).





Fast forward to today, formal verification has found its place in the complex and costly verification process.  Formal verification tools not only find bugs but give great confidence on a class of problems and applications where simulation, emulation and static tools are not as effective. Most importantly, today over thousands of design and verification engineers apply formal verification tools in well-established methodologies as another tool in their verification toolbox.

What enabled this shift?

My personal opinion is that 3 factors are at the core:A 3D concept graphic depicting a leader in front of a group of people. Rendered against a white background with a soft shadow and reflection to enhance the 3D.

  • Success is contagious: As the few formal experts learned how to articulate and demonstrate the results of their work, their colleagues, management, (and competition) took notice. Soon the few experts became 10, 20, 40, and eventually 100s across companies.
  • Application Verticals: End users and experts started to identify certain class of problems, applications, niche domains, etc. where formal verification was very effective. They started building templates, scripts, automation and eventually Software Apps that solve these classes of problems, easily, quickly and without formal verification background.

A hand drawn vector cartoon illustration of a little kid playing video game on his smartphone.

  • Steady technology progress: Since formal verification uses mathematical reasoning, scaling its application to large blocks and its turn-around-time have always been a concern. Having said that, every year steady progress is being made on the formal engines, abstractions, heuristics, and orchestrations that are applied. For instance, many classes of problems that were not tractable 10 years ago are solved in a matter of few second with today’s state-of-the-art technology.


Each of the points above justifies an in-depth discussion, I hope you will join me over the next few weeks as I attempt of cover them in more detail.

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