As the EDA industry and its customers are preparing for the yearly show down at the Design Automation Conference (DAC), it is good to review what I said in the past. Well, two years ago I wrote a blog called "Maybe This Time" (inspired by the Sally Bowles song in Cabaret, I am a Musical Geek after all), in which I outlined the top five reasons why DAC 2012 will be the DAC of System-Level Design. Being in system-level design and verification is truly like being the Energizer Bunny. We are drumming on.
Let's see how my top five reasons from two years ago scale to 2012. They have intensified, for sure! And at the bottom of this post you will find a list of system-level events you should not miss at DAC 2012. See you next week!
My 2010 reason number five, "Technology consolidation has begun" is certainly still true. 2012 was the year in which CoWare, VaST and Synfora were acquired. Some disaggregation has happened since then, Mentor spun out high-level synthesis into Calypto, Intel acquired CoFluent. Cadence has officially fully entered the system-level market with the rollout of the System-Development Suite in May 2011. Just before this year's DAC, Ansys aqcuired Esterel Technologies in our adjacent market of embedded software. And Cadence rolled out the 2012 edition of the System Development Suite featuring new in-circuit acceleration and improvements to all underlying execution engines (virtual prototyping, RTL simulation, acceleration, emulation and FPGA based prototyping) individually. The market, with all major vendors playing in it, certainly shows signs of getting closer to maturity.
If you want to understand more about how the different technologies can interact to enable efficient system-level design, I specifically do recommend coming to our breakfast on HW/SW Co-Development on Tuesday morning. It will feature live presentations from AMD and LSI talking about their adoption of the System Development Suite, as well as video testimonials from Xilinx, NVidia and Freescale. For information and registration, click here.
My 2010 reason number four, "Design Chain enablement becomes a key requirement", has just become more and more important since 2010. Cadence is presenting at ARM's booth, they are presenting at ours, and the best testament for how a design chain interacts is the DAC panel discussing system-level models on Tuesday at 1:30, in which we have a system house (RIM), semiconductor providers (Qualcomm), IP vendors (ARM, Tensilica) and an EDA vender (Cadence) jointly discussing the question whether "one model fits all".
2010 Reason number three, "Standards enable interoperability," has continued to grow in importance. One item of note to me this DAC is the presentation by STMicroelectronics and Cadence about the next levels of standardization around SystemC TLM 2.0, Wednesday at 4:25pm at the North American SystemC User Group. To learn more about interoperability I recommend checking out presentations at the Cadence EDA360 Theater (booth 1930) given by partners (ARM, Dini, Imperas, LeCroy, Methods2Business, NextOp, Rohde&Schwarz) and customers (AMD, LSI, Xilinx on Acceleration/Emulation, Xilinx on Virtual Platforms). Standardization and Interoperability continue!
2010 Reason number two was "Links to Verification find adoption". Well, the System Development Suite itself combines engines executing more abstract transaction-level models (TLM) with engines at the traditional register transfer level (RTL) - simulation, acceleration/emulation and FPGA based prototyping. Other vendors in emulation as well as simulation are pushing similar links. All this is taking into account the software running on modern chips, and how it is used for verification as well as the engines enable its early development.
An event not to miss at DAC 2012 is the 10th ESL Symposium moderated by Wally Rhines, happening at 11:30 on Tuesday. I'll be on the panel myself together with Samsung, ARM, NEC and Mentor, and we will discuss "the role of software in addressing key system-level verification challenges, the requirements for introducing software at pre-silicon stages, and the need for multiple verification engines and design abstraction levels, such as virtual platforms and emulation, to balance maximum system verification cycles for the system, software or hardware validation objectives." We'll have fun! And you'll have a free lunch ...
I do expect my final reason in 2010 - that "Foundries are starting to incorporate system-level flows" - not to be as pronounced on the show floor as in previous years. However, the initial rollout and attention with foundry based ESL reference flows in the last two years has made a place for real adoption discussions. Several vendors have put on their DAC agenda "PPA characterization for TLM analysis and modeling," so they are trying to further connect high-level modeling with the actual underlying silicon technology. We even have these discussions with 3D-IC experts, for which system-level modeling becomes more and more important and whether a signal crosses between stacked chips or leaves a package can become the difference between failure and success of a project.
So are we there yet for system-level design and verification? Will this DAC be the DAC of system-level design? Well, having been involved in this domain for one and a half decades, I now can imagine how the ever drumming Energizer Bunny must feel. We are making progress. And are drumming on ...
And as promised, here are the system-level events not to miss for DAC:
DAC Welcome reception with Gary Smith discussion of market trends
Exploring a double paradigm shift for embedded software development: virtual prototyping plus formally proven model driven software generation
Methods2Business, Marleen Boonen
Cadence EDA 360 Theatre
LTE-Advanced with Palladium XP
Rohde&Schwarz, Andreas Roessler
Panel: HW/SW Interface Management – The path to smoother HW/SW integration?
‘The Integration Forum’, Duolog Booth # 1520
Gary Stringham (Gary Stringham Associates), Frank Schirrmeister (Cadence)Harry, the ASIC Guy, Kurt Shuler (Arteris)
Extensible Virtual Platform for the Xilinx Zynq-7000 EPP
Xilinx, David Beal
Tuesday, June 5th
270-276 (Moscone Convention Center)
Cadence System to Silicon Solution for ARM big.LITTLE Designs
Cadence, Frank Schirrmeister
ARM Connected Community Pavilion at booth 802
ARM Fast Models at the Heart of Virtual Prototyping
ARM, Robert Kaye
Panel: 10th Annual ESL Symposium - Panel: The ESL Hotspot - Where Software and Hardware Meet
Gateway Ballroom, #104
The panel will discuss the role of software in addressing key system-level verification challenges, the requirements for introducing software at pre-silicon stages, and the need for multiple verification engines and design abstraction levels, such as Virtual platforms and emulation, to balance maximum system verification cycles for the system, software or hardware validation objectives.
Panel: System Models - Does One Size Fit All?
System-level modeling is a critical part of product design flows. Developing a single model that simultaneously satisfies the needs of software developers, system architects, hardware developers, and verification engineers is hard. Time of availability,usage models, accuracy requirements, development effort, and speed vary greatly. Is it possible for one size to fit all? Who will provide the models? Who will pay for them? The panelists will review different aspects of system modeling and discuss which abstraction levels best address specific user requirements.
Zynq EPP – from RTL to success with emulation
Xilinx, Peter Ryser
A deterministic flow combining Virtual Prototypes, emulation and FPGA-based prototypes
LSI, Chuck Cruse
A new paradigm for system-level debug productivity
AMD, Alex Starr
Wednesday, June 6th
Panel: High-Level Synthesis Production Deployment: Are We Ready?
High-level synthesis has historically over-promised and under-delivered, but that is all about to change. Or, is it? Are we ready to climb the ladder up to the next level of design abstraction? Watch our panelists debate whether today’s technology can handle system validation, IP integration and optimization, power/performance constraints, and design verification challenges. Find out if we are about to connect the world of embedded software development to hardware design.
Assertion Synthesis: A Power ‘App’ for Simulation, Formal, and Hardware-Assisted Verification
NextOp Software, Yuan Lu
Open Virtual Platforms (OVP) and Cadence VSP
Imperas, Larry Lapides
Ubiquitous PCI Express verification from simulation thru post-Silicon development
LeCroy, John Weidermeier
Beyond TLM 2.0: New Virtual Platform Standards Proposals from ST and Cadence
Stuart Swan, Cadence Design Systems, USAJerome Cornet, STMicroelectronics, USA
NASCUG, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA
FPGA-based prototypes - to build or to buy?
Dini Group, Mike Dini