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Cadence: Plan verification to avoid mistakes!


Apurva Kalia

Apurva Kalia

Following Mentor Graphics, Cadence Design Systems Inc. has entered the verification debate. ;)  I met Apurva Kalia, VP R&D – System & Verification Group, Cadence Design Systems. In a nutshell, he advised that there needs to be proper verification planning in order to avoid mistakes. First, let’s try to find out the the biggest verification mistakes.

Top verification mistakes
Kalia said that the biggest verification mistakes made today are:
* Verification engineers do not define a structured notion of verification completeness.
* Verification planning is not done up front and is carried out as verification is going along.
* A well-defined reusable verification methodology is not applied.
* Legacy tools continue to be used for verification; new tools and technologies are not adopted.

In that case, why are some companies STILL not knowing how to verify a chip?

He added: “I would not describe the situation as companies not knowing how to verify a chip. Instead, I think a more accurate description of the problem is that the verification complexity has increased so much that companies do not know how to meet their verification goals.

“For example, the number of cycles needed to verify a current generation processor – as calculated by traditional methods of doing verification – is too prohibitive to be done in any reasonable timeframe using legacy verification methodologies. Hence, new methodologies and tools are needed. Designs today need to be verified together with software. This also requires new tools and methodologies. Companies are not moving fast enough to define, adopt and use these new tools and methodologies thereby leading to challenges in verifying a chip.”

Addressing challenges
How are companies trying to address the challenges?

Companies are trying to address the challenges in various ways:
* Companies at the cutting edge of designs and verification are indeed trying to adopt structured verification methodologies to address these challenges.

* Smaller companies are trying to address these challenges by outsourcing their verification to experts and by hiring more verification experts.

* Verification acceleration and prototyping solutions are being adopted to get faster verification and which will allow companies to do more verification in the same amount of time.

* Verification environment re-use helps to cut down the time required to develop verification environments.

* Key requirements of SoC integration and verification—including functionality, compliance, power, performance, etc.—are hardware/software debug efficiency, multi-language verification, low power, mixed signal, fast time to debug, and execution speed.

Cadence has the widest portfolio of tools to help companies meet verification challenges, including:

Incisive Enterprise Manager, which provides hierarchical verification technology for multiple IPs, interconnects, hardware/software, and plans to improve management productivity and visibility;

The recently launched vManager solution, a verification planning and management solution enabled by client/server technology to address the growing verification closure challenge driven by increasing design size and complexity;

Incisive Enterprise Verifier, which delivers dual power from tightly integrated formal analysis and simulation engines; and

Incisive Enterprise Simulator, which provides the most comprehensive IEEE language support with unique capabilities supporting the intent, abstraction, and convergence needed to speed silicon realization.

Are companies building an infrastructure that gets you business advantage? Yes, companies are realizing the problems. It is these companies that are the winners in managing today’s design and verification challenges, he said.

Good verification
When should good verification start?

Kalia noted: “Good verification should start right at the time of the high level architecture of the design. A verification strategy should be defined at that time, and an overall verification plan should be written at that time. This is where a comprehensive solution like Incisive vManager can help companies manage their verification challenges by ensuring that SoC developers have a consistent methodology for design quality enhancements.”

Are folks mistaking by looking at tools and not at the verification process itself?

He addded that right tools and methodology are needed to resolve today’s verification challenges. Users need to work on defining verification methodologies and at the same time look at the tools that are needed to achieve verification goals.

Verification planning
Finally, there’s verification planning! What should be the ‘right’ verification path?

Verification planning needs to include:

* A formal definition of verification goals;
* A formal definition of coverage goals at all levels – starting with code coverage all the way to functional coverage;
* Required resources – human and compute;
* Verification timelines;
* All the verification tools to be used for verification; and
* Minimum and maximum signoff criteria.

Global semiconductor companies delivering platforms: Jaswinder Ahuja, Cadence


Jaswinder Ahuja.

Jaswinder Ahuja.

Some time ago, Cadence Design Systems Inc. had announced the EDA360 vision! As per Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate VP and MD of Cadence Design Systems India, the Cadence vision of EDA360 is said to be well and alive. The organization has been aligned around the EDA360 vision.

The EDA360 is a five-year vision for defining the trends in the EDA industry, based on what Cadence is observing in the industry and the direction in which, it feels, the industry will go.

At Cadence,  the Silicon Realization Group is headed by Dr. Chi-ping Hsu. The SoC Realization Group is headed by Martin Lund, and Nimish Modi is looking after the System Realization Group. Cadence’s focus has been on in-house development and innovation. Tempus has been a major announcement from the Silicon Realization Group.

What’s going on with EDA360?
There has been a renewed thrust in the SoC Realization Group at Cadence. Already, there have been three acquisitions this year — Cosmic Circuits, Tensilica and Evatronix. Cadence is buying the IP part of the business from Evatronix. This acquisition is ongoing and will be announced in June 2013.

On the relationship between the electronics and the EDA industries, Ahuja said the electronics industry is going through a transition, and that the EDA industry needs to change. The importance of system-level design has increased. Companies are currently focusing on optimizing the end user experience.
Read more…

Cadence Tempus accelerates timing analysis and closure by weeks!


Cadence Design Systems Inc. has announced the Tempus timing signoff solution. It facilitates ground-breaking signoff timing analysis and closure. The new technology accelerates timing analysis and closure by weeks. It is said to be up to 10X faster than competing solutions. Tempus has also been endorsed by Texas Instruments (TI).

TempusComplexity is growing exponentially and signoff is the bottleneck. There is an increasing design complexity. Low power is important across markets — from smartphones to datacenters. Time to market remains critical as well. Feature-rich devices are growing the design size.

Timing closure schedule and complexity have been increasing. In fact, up until now, timing closure solutions are said to have not kept pace with design complexity. The number of timing views are increasing with each new process node. The increased margins make timing closure very difficult. Exponential growth in design size and complexity are stretching the analysis capacity. Time in signoff closure has been increasing up to 40 percent of the design flow at 20nm.

Come Tempus!
The Tempus timing signoff solution is big on performance, accuracy and closure. For performance, it facilitates massively parallelized computation, is scalable to 100s of CPUs and there are optimized data structures. It allows up to 10X faster path-based analysis (PBA) and advanced process modeling for accuracy. Finally, for closure, it provides up to 10X reduction in closure time, is placement and routing aware and offers unlimited MMMC capacity.

Tempus offers an unprecedented performance, and handles 100s of millions of cells flat! It has an innovative hierarchical/incremental analysis. For design closure, the multi-mode, multi-corner (MMMC) is distributed or concurrent. There is physically aware optimization, such as graph- or path-based. The PBA is a detailed view of timing based on slew propagation.

With Tempus, Cadence is solving the design complexity challenge by eliminating the signoff bottleneck and enabling customers to meet power, performance and time-to-market goals.

Tensilica to expand Cadence IP footprint in SoCs


Chris Rowan.

Chris Rowan.

Tensilica DPU solutions are meant for broad applications. It is focusing on three key verticals — Hi-Fi audio voice, IVP imaging and Diamond controllers, as well as the Xtensa. Tensilica will expand the Cadence IP footprint in SoCs. This compliments Cadence and Cosmic Circuits interface and analog IPs.

How does all of this fit into Cadence’s vision of an IP factory? According to Chris Rowan, founder and CTO, Tensilica, there will likely be an IP bazaar, architected  for efficiency, quality and strong focus on integration. He was speaking on the concluding day of the 13th Global Electronics Summit at Santa Cruz, USA.

Complex imaging functions are now everywhere. There are some challenges here such as computational demands. The off-load opportunity means more operations, and lower power per operation.

The Tensilica IVP – image/video processing family consists of the IVP, a high-performance DSP subsystem. It is built for low energy handheld devices. It also has licensable, synthesizable core with rich software tools and libraries. The IVP core has 32 element engines. The IVP has many parallel ‘element engines’ + Xtensa control programmed as SMID  uniprocessor. Application examples include feature detection, 3D noise reduction filter, and video stabiilizer.

IVP is meeting tomorrow’s imaging requirements. It is built for very high imaging efficiency. It is easy to program and is scalable — and can use multiple cores.There is a huge market in many applications. An example of how Tensilica will fit into Cadence’s IP factory is the DTV application.

Together, Cadence and Tensilica will increase customer value. They will accelerate the time-to-market with solution proven customizable design IP. There will be fully integrated data plane solutions for optimized solutions, power and area for various applications. High quality IP subsystems are tested to work optimally together. It is highly complementary to partner CPUs. It is also highly complementary to Cadence’s broad connectivity/AMS design IP, verification IP offerings, and foundry-qualified SoC design tools.

The partnership will also bolster Cadence as a next-generation IP provider. There will be an enhanced portfolio of advanced IP in advanced nodes spanning a wide range of applications. It will address seamless designs from architecture definition to silicon
tape-out. It will also strengthen solutions to address key market segments.

Tensilica acquisition to broaden Cadence’s IP portfolio


Last week (March 11, 2013), Cadence Design Systems Inc. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Tensilica Inc., a leader in dataplane processing IP, for approximately $380 million in cash.

With this acquisition, Tensilica dataplane processing units (DPUs) combined with Cadence design IP will deliver more optimized IP solutions for mobile wireless, network infrastructure, auto infotainment and home applications.

The Tensilica IP also complements industry-standard processor architectures, providing application-optimized subsystems to increase differentiation and get to market faster. Finally, over 200 licensees, including system OEMs and seven of the top 10 semiconductor companies, have shipped over 2 billion Tensilica IP cores.

Pankaj Mayor

Pankaj Mayor

Talking about the rationale behind Cadence acquiring Tensilica, Pankaj Mayor, VP and head of Marketing, Cadence, said: “Tensilica fits and furthers our IP strategy – the combination of Tensilica’s DPU and Cadence IP portfolio will broaden our IP portfolio. Tensilica also brings significant engineering and management talent. The combination will allow us to deliver to our customers configurable, differentiated, and application-optimized subsystems that improve time to market.”

It is expected that the Cadence acquisition will also see the Tensilica dataplane IP to complement Cadence and Cosmic Circuits’ IP. Cadence had acquired Cosmic Circuits in February 2013.

What are the possible advantages of DPUs over DSPs? Does it mean a possible end of the road for DSPs?

As per Mayor, DSPs are special purpose processors targeted to address digital signaling. Tensilica’s DPUs are programmable and customizable for a specific function, providing optimal data throughput and processing speed; in other words, the DPUs from Tensilica provide a unique combination of customized processing, plus DSP. Tensilica’s DPUs can outperform traditional DSPs in power and performance.

So, what will happens to the MegaChips design center agreement with Tensilica? Does it still carry on? According to Mayor, right now, Cadence and Tensilica are operating as two independent companies and therefire, Cadence cannot comment until the closing of the acquisition, which is in 30-60 days.

Global semiconductor industry outlook 2013: Jaswinder Ahuja, Cadence

December 17, 2012 3 comments

Jaswinder Ahuja, Cadence.

Jaswinder Ahuja, Cadence.

How will 2013 turn out to be for the global semiconductor industry? Will there be growth for the global EDA industry? Importantly, how will the Indian semiconductor industry perform in 2013? I asked Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate VP and MD, Cadence Design Systems India these questions.

Outlook for global semicon industry in 2013
First, how is the outlook for global semiconductor industry in 2013 going to be? Ahuja said: “The long term outlook for the semiconductor industry remains positive, with mobility and cloud computing being the key drivers. The global economy is forecast to grow around 4 percent annually through 2016, according to an April 2012 report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“In its June 2012 report, Gartner predicted growth in electronics and semiconductor industries to outpace that of the world GDP growth, at 5½ percent annually to approach $2 trillion for electronics and 6 percent annually for semiconductors through 2016. So, the semiconductor industry outlook remains very positive overall.

“In the near term, multiple challenges will need to be weathered with respect to the global economic climate, especially in European markets. The JP Morgan/GSA Semiconductor Index of Leading Indicators points to a soft semiconductor industry in 2013. However, there are lot of new products in the mobile and tablet space that are driving demand, such as the iPhone 5, Microsoft Surface, and Samsung Galaxy S III.

“The China semiconductor space is emerging as a key market for semiconductor company revenue, and forecasts predict that it will show rapid annual growth rate. The consolidation and M&A activities that we are seeing in the global semiconductor industry also indicate a positive outlook for the upcoming year.

“In India as well, the semiconductor industry will continue to see growth. The injection of funds and other support outlined in the National Policy on Electronics will provide an impetus to home-grown design and manufacturing, which should start gaining traction in 2013.”

Five trends for 2013
What would be the three or five trends likely to be visible in 2013? Ahuja said Cadence sees five big trends that will drive growth in the near and long term. These are: mobility, application driven design, video, cloud and security.

Probably, the most pervasive change in electronics recently has been mobility. When we talk about mobility, it’s just not about smart phones or tablets, but any kind of device which is mobile. Within the mobile space, software applications help system manufacturers and vendors differentiate themselves and stand apart from the competition. The need to have apps on all kinds of devices is driving rapid growth, as well as placing new demands on EDA companies.

The entertainment industry will be the key driver for video, and as the year progresses, we will continue to see more and more products and solutions introduced to tap into the demand. For the semiconductor industry, video will drive growth both in the end consumer market (mobile platforms) and the enterprise space (networking industry).

In many ways, the backbone to mobility is the cloud. With its network servers and infrastructure, the cloud is what delivers much of the content and value to all of those mobile devices. Statistics show that we need one server for every 600 smart phones and one for every 120 tablets. So there is a big need for data centers which can provide support for all the computing and back-end operations.

Security of data in mobile devices and the cloud will continue to be a challenge in the near future. There will be renewed calls to develop products that can protect critical infrastructure and sensitive information from security breaches.
Read more…

Cadence Allegro 16.6 accelerates timing closure

September 26, 2012 1 comment

Cadence Design Systems Inc. has released the Allegro/OrCAD 16.6 that provides unmatched, scalable design solutions addressing technology challenges.

Allegro is meant for simple to more complex boards, for the geographically dispersed design teams. They also cater to the personal productivity needs for start-ups and small to medium companies. It provides high-speed, power aware SI, HDI managed design environments, that is meant for medium to large enterprises.

Allegro, Sigrity and OrCAD – major themes of Allegro PCB 16.6
The major themes of Allegro PCB 16.6 include the first ECAD collaborative environment for work-in-progress (WiP) PCB design using Microsoft SharePoint. It accelerates the timing closure for high-speed interfaces such as DDRx. There is support for advanced miniaturization techniques that embed passive and active components on inner layers of a PCB.

Cadence Allegro is meant for simple to more complex boards.

Cadence Allegro is for simple to more complex boards.

Regarding the percentage of enhanced miniaturization capabilities for embedding dual-sided and vertical components, Hemant Shah, product marketing director, Allegro PCB and FPGA Products, Cadence, said: “Components with dual-sided contacts offer customers the ability to connect to the components pins through the layer above or through the layer below. This provides routing flexibility. It also allows customers who want redundant connections on inner layers.”

There can be accelerated design implementation through flexible PCB team design capability. Leveraging GPUs for faster display, you can pan and zoom on dense PCBs, enabling greater design productivity.

Typical product creation environment includes the best-in-class hardware design environment for implementation, analysis and compliance sign-off. The design team collaboration capability encompasses design-chain partners. Design data can be integrated into corporate systems to manage cost and quality, and provide visibility. It allows on-time release into manufacturing to build products.

Allegro, OrCAD and Sigrity ensure product creation with the best-in-class PCB design environment. Design team collaboration and productivity is integrated at the PCB. Design data integration is done into corporate systems to manage cost and quality. There is on-time release into manufacturing to build products. Allegro, OrCAD and Sigrity are helping create market leading products.

Users can create the first ECAD collaborative environment using Microsoft SharePoint. Design creation and collaboration trends include geographically distributed teams, increase in outsourcing (OEMs-ODMs), product life cycle management tools are not designed/targeted for managing work-in-progress data. For every design engineer, there are 3X-5X collaborators, reviewers, etc.

The Allegro Design workbench integrates seamlessly to SharePoint 2010. The Team Design Authoring cockpit facilitates design data in and out of SharePoint providing WiP design data management. There is block level check-in, check-out, etc. SharePoint is already deployed in many companies. It is scalable from single server to cloud environment. It has rich platform for power users to configure and developers to customize.

By creating the first ECAD collaborative environment, users can reduce the product creation time by up to 40 per cent. Chances of first pass failure are also reduced from 25 per cent to 1 per cent. Users can accelerate the timing closure on high-speed, multi-Gigabit signals.
Read more…

Cadence releases latest Encounter RTL-to-GDSII flow


Rahul Deokar, product management director, Cadence.

Rahul Deokar, product management director, Cadence.

Cadence Design Systems recently introduced the latest release of Cadence Encounter RTL-to-GDSII flow for high-performance and giga-scale designs, including those at the latest technology node, 20 nanometers.

Rahul Deokar, product management director, said: “We are addressing designer challenges in – high performance design, giga-scale design and advanced node design. The first challenge is the PPA – power performance and area. Next challenge is to handle giga-scale designs with efficient turnaround time. The third key challenge is fast time-to-market on advanced 28nm/20nm design.”

With this latest release, Cadence provides the industry’s best PPA. Second, it is providing 1 billion gates on designer desktops. Third, it provides the fastest path to 20nm digital design. In the new announcement, there are three new technologies – GigaOpt + CCOpt, GigaFlex, and 20nm double patterning.

Cadence has introduced “GigaOpt” – a common optimization engine that unifies physical synthesis and optimization. GigaOpt provides designers globally optimal results across the front-end and back-end of the design flow. And that results in the benefit of the industry’s best PPA for high-performance design. GigaOpt has been designed from scratch to be multi-threaded, which makes it ultra fast and ultra scalable.

Another innovation, CCOpt, is the first and only technology in EDA to unify clock tree synthesis and physical optimization. CCOpt is now an integral part of the Encounter flow accelerating design closure with the best PPA. CCOpt facilitates:
* 10 percent improvement in design performance and total power.
* 30 percent reduction in clock power and area.
* 30 percent reduction in IR drop.

The Encounter flow now allows 1 billion gates to be enabled on the designer’s desktops. This is done with the new GigaFlex abstraction technology. It is the first and only technology in EDA that enables flexible, accurate abstraction adaptable to the flow stage. There is 10X capacity and TAT gains on 100 million+ instance designs. GigaFlex abstraction technology allows accurate, early physical modeling, concurrent top-and-block interface optimization, and concurrent hierarchical closure and late-stage ECO. Read more…

Realizing EDA360: Charlie Huang, Cadence


Long-term trends are strong for semiconductor and electronics. According to databeans estimate (Feb. 2011), semiconductor revenue will likely reach $450 billion by 2015 and electronics revenuw will likely reach $2,800 billion by 2015.

Speaking at the CDNLive! 2011 event in Bangalore, India, Charlie Huang, SVP of Worldwide Field Operations, Cadence Design Systems Inc., said that the challenges in the near term are slowdown in Europe and USA. The weakness is driven by increasingly negative views on the global economy, end demand, orders and outlook. Key indicators are also showing that the economy is facing headwinds. The 2011 GDP growth projections have deteriorated since the beginning of the year. The economy has been marred by high unemployment and low consumer confidence.

As of now, innovation has been driving growth. Apps have been driving innovation, followed by video, mobility, cloud and green technology. The impact on the electronics industry is multi-fold. There is a new development paradigm and collaboration has been increasing. The IP is also expanding beyond cores and the EDA is changing.

Source: Cadence.

Source: Cadence.

The new development paradigm for system companies is to differentiate on applications and semiconductor companies must deliver on application-driven hardware-software platforms. IP has now expanded well beyond the core. EDA is also changing, and Cadence is investing to deliver on the EDA360 vision. There are multiple silicon realization challenges. Cadence silicon realization solutions enable fast, deterministic, end-to-end path to silicon success.

As an example, ARM and Cadence have collaborated on the GHz implementation of Cortex-A15. ARM chose ARM Artisan physical IP, evaluated the Cortex-A15 RTL, and supported CPF. Cadence optimized the EDA flow, experienced support at EAC, and provided EDA tool releases and iRM.

ARM, TSMC and Cadence also collaborated on the industry’s first 20nm Cortex-A15. TSMC provided the 20nm process qualification and A15 learnings. ARM handled the 20nm implementation experience, A15 considerations in 20nm and TSMC 20nm readiness milestone. Cadence provided the 20nm research to reality, contributed and grew the A15 expertise and TSMC 20nm readiness milestone.

The end result: the industry’s first 20nm Cortex-A15 tapeout, thanks to a successful three-way vertical collaboration. ARM, Cadence and TSMC engineers worked side-by-side. The project priorities included 20nm DPT implementation schedule and 20nm readiness milestone.
Read more…

Cadence VLSI certification program (CVCP) aims to deliver ‘industry grade’ graduates

November 19, 2010 37 comments

Cadence Design Systems presented a curtain raiser on the Cadence VLSI Certification Program (CVCP) during the CDNLive India University conference. The availability of trained manpower holds the key to sustained growth. Also, the first thing required to build a good product is to have a good design. Hence, the need for good chip designers.

Cadence already has over 300 program participant institutes in India. The company regularly conducts ‘train the trainer’  programs as well. This program has so far witnessed the tapeouts of five chips and includes IPs from 14 colleges.

Cadence has also started additional strategic programs. First, finishing schools — initiatives with some universities and Indian semiconductor houses. These have been established to bridge the skill gap. Cadence has seen some success in Hyderabad and Bangalore. It has also contributed to the industry demand of manpower. Cadence also has the Orcad training program.

Joint development activity has been happening within the industry-academia to provide a consistent quality of curriculum and develop broader penetration.

The enablers/catalysts are industry veterans, who accept their social responsibility of training upcoming engineers. Some of the first movers aer already Cadence’s training partners.

CVCP initiative
Cadence’s CVCP has been launched with objective of delivering graduates that are ‘industry grade’. It will also provide an incremental training approach, leading up from VLSI fundamentals to industry relevant skills.

The industry relevant leading edge course work has been developed and proven through various programs such as the Cadence-Brazil initiative. Graduates will undergo hands-on guided development projects. The CVCP’s duration is of 214 hours spread over six months. It offers the following:
* MTEch in VLSI.
* MTech in digital electronics.
* MTech in embedded systems.
* BE/BTech in ECE, EE, TC.

The course will be running concurrent to the ongoing degree. Cadence owns the course, which is delivered by CCTP with support from CDNS. NIST, Berhampur, in Orissa, is the first participant in the CVCP with a batch of 60 students.

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