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The HTW Dresden - University of Applied Sciences offers several courses in the area of design for digital circuits. In addition to synthesis, verification has become an important topic in recent years that HTW Dresden has been focusing on. In their offered courses, the students learn the principles of simulation, coverage oriented verification and formal verification. Since the understanding of curriculum can be deepened by practical work, HTW Dresden established lab work for students last winter term. Due to its importance, coverage oriented verification has been chosen as the main topic of the lab work. The students learn the differences between directed and random test patterns and the role of coverage metrics. The e programming language has been chosen for coverage oriented verification because the intuitive nature of the language makes it easy to learn, so no prerequisite of knowing the language is required. To lower the effort at the university, Cadence provided a cloud-based computer server with all the simulation software already installed. The simulation project, along with the example circuit, was provided by Bosch Sensortec, which has rich experience with Cadence verification tools and the language e. All three partners worked together to create the lab work in time for the winter term.
We were able to summarize the most important usage aspects of Cadence Specman® and verification manager on only a few pages so the students were able to start working quickly, without long tool training. The students created directed tests written in VHDL and e and compared these experiences with the control of random pattern generators in Specman while evaluating the coverage in the verification manager. They learned the advantages of, and the specific kind of thinking needed to apply coverage oriented verification. Thanks to the support of Cadence and Bosch Sensortec, the lab work was a great success. Hopefully more students will become interested in the verification area since verification engineers are needed not only at Bosch Sensortec, but in the whole "Silicon Saxony" (the chip industry in and around Dresden).
Bosch Sensortec GmbH, a fully owned subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH, develops and markets a wide portfolio of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors and solutions tailored for smartphones, tablets, wearables and hearables, AR/VR devices, drones, robots, smart home and IoT (Internet of Things) applications. The product portfolio includes 3-axis accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, integrated 6- and 9-axis sensors, smart sensors, barometric pressure sensors, humidity sensors, gas sensors, optical microsystems and comprehensive software. Since its foundation in 2005, Bosch Sensortec has emerged as the MEMS technology leader in the markets it addresses. Bosch has been both a pioneer and a global market leader in the MEMS sensor segment since 1995 and has, to date, sold more than 10 billion MEMS sensors.
In our design in Dresden we develop application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) in the challenging field of consumer electronics. While first consumer sensor products had only moderate complex signal read out chains for the MEMS sensors, more recent products are more and more driven by advanced ASIC features containing, depending on their field of application, integrated micro controllers, digital signal processors, image pipelines, external components and more. This is why advanced verification methods are necessary to achieve a first silicon success.
To apply those methods, we need dedicated experts who are, on the one hand, familiar with ASIC design in general, but also have a deep understanding in developing complex testbench architectures. Unfortunately, it is not common to teach this knowledge in university, but by combining efforts with Cadence and Bosch Sensortec, we are making strides in teaching these trends to academia. The collaboration between HTW Dresden and the Cadence Academic Network allowed us to show the students what verification is really all about in today’s semiconductor industry! We hope to motivate more and more students to develop in this direction.