Design debug process is behavior-based - Embedded.com

Design debug process is behavior-based

The Verdi debug and design exploration system from Novas Softwareautomates the time-consuming process of revealing the behavior ofdigital integrated circuits (ICs). It is a result of ongoing effortsto shorten verification cycles and increase engineeringproductivity.

Verdi fundamentally transforms the debugging process forleading-edge IC and system-on-chip (SoC) applications with newbehavior-based techniques that reduce the time and effort required tocomprehend how a design works or why it does not work as expected.

Verdi is based on the company's second-generation technologyplatform that delivers technologies and methodologies for advanceddesign exploration and debug, knowledge management for design sharingand reuse, and integrated system-level design and testbenchdebug.

Modern debug tools, including Novas' Debussy knowledge-based debugsystem, apply highly productive automation to the process ofsearching the structure of a design and correlating it with thesimulation results in a waveform display. This speeds the process ofbuilding a mental image of the design's behavior over time.

However, the process is still manual, which can be daunting forlarge, complex or unfamiliar designs.

Verdi combines behavior-based debugging capabilities with all ofthe traditional debug features of Debussy. Building on top of theDesign Knowledge Architecture that is at the core of Debussy -recently upgraded with 2x performance improvements – Verdi addsrigorous mathematical analysis, temporal visualization, and symbolicexploration to create a new debugging experience.

Novas‚ pragmatic, patent-pending application of synthesis andformal verification methods enables designers to analyze cause andeffect relationships, visualize design behavior over time, andexplore alternate behaviors all within the environment of Verdi.

Open, interoperable system

Verdi is an open, interoperable system that shares the sameapplication programming interfaces that have allowed Debussy to beintegrated with a number of logic simulators, formal verification andtiming analysis tools, as well as other third-party applications fora tightly integrated verification and debug flow.

Instead of manually correlating waveforms with source code andschematics, users see the behavior of the design over time laid outin our new flow graphs, and they can investigate alternativebehavior.

Technologies included in the Verdi system are:

  • Behavior analysis – This automatically infers the logicfunctions of a design from its register-transfer-level orgate-level description. It interprets simulation results togenerate an internal model of actual design behavior over time toreplace the manual correlation of signal events with logicstructures that traditional debug approaches require.
  • Visualization capabilities show how control and data flowthrough the logic with new register flow and statement flowgraphs. They isolate active logic paths to reveal the root causesof specific design behavior, expected or unexpected. Itautomatically trace signals back through time to show how anunfamiliar design actually works.
  • Symbolic Design Exploration – This performs local 'what-if'analysis for instant feedback on potential bug fixes and to reducethe number of debug-change-re-simulate iterations. It explores theeffects of different values and even source code changes on designbehavior through an 'evaluate” operation to propagate modifiedvaluesforward and a 'justify' operation to automatically searchbackward by solving a logic equation for a specified value interms of specific inputs selected as variables.

Verdi is a bundled product that combines its new behavior-baseddebug capabilities with the core features of the Debussy system in asingle package. It will be available for shipment in July running onUnix and Linux platforms. Verilog capability will be available atinitial product shipment. VHDL and mixed-language capabilities areplanned for later in 2002.

Huge opportunities

“The difficulty of understanding how designs work and why theydon't continues to increase exponentially, particularly for SoCs,where both chips and the teams that design them are large andcomplex, and much of the design is unfamiliar to the design andverification engineers. Debug carries huge opportunity costs, and thetime spent doing it is effectively wasted,” said Scott Sandler,president and CEO of Novas. “Behavior-based debug is the technologyrevolution needed to minimize debug time and avoid stretchingschedules in the face of unrelenting design challenges. Verdiadvances the state of the design exploration art and fulfills ourcommitment to changing the economics of debug for more predictableand profitable design cycles.”


Published in Embedded Systems (Europe) June 2002

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