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Do you think that you need to have a PhD in order to use formal verification? Do you believe that formal is difficult because you need specifications? Are you concerned that formal doesn’t scale?
These are just a few of the formal verification myths that Prof. Ashish Darbari, principal hardware design engineer at Imagination Technologies, would like to dispel.
At Imagination, the view from 30,000 feet is “about solving hard problems of verification….and doing it at different levels of abstraction,” said Darbari. “We, like any company, would use a combination of verification technologies...formal and assertion-based fit into this umbrella of different verification techniques.”
Formal Is Not Rocket Science
Darbari is part of Imagination’s Advanced Verification Methodology Group. The team has filed eight patents, delivered formal training to nearly 60 engineers, and defined formal and verification efficiency roadmaps. Said Darbari, “It’s exciting when you work with smart people who aren’t used to formal—you hear an interesting collection of things, some of which are true and some of which are not.”
Simply put, formal verification involves model checking, theorem proving, and equivalence checking. Designing formal tools does require a background in formal. However, as Darbari notes, “the application of formal is not rocket science, it does not require a PhD.”
So, why has adoption of formal been such a challenge? Why hasn’t this methodology become as popular as using simulators or emulators?
Imagination booth at DAC 2015
In Darbari’s view, formal verification has been viewed as a step-cousin of sorts at least partly because of these 10 myths:
Darbari refuted each myth during a presentation in the Cadence Theater at this summer’s Design Automation Conference (DAC) in San Francisco. To hear his talk and view his slides, visit Cadence’s DAC microsite, at the Session 21 (12:00pm, June 9, 2015) slot.
“To make formal as good a methodology as it can be, you need to go beyond these myths,” said Darbari. “You need to start early, have a good methodology, and look at efficiency and reuse. Yes, I’m a formal fanatic, but I’m proud to be a fan of logical reasoning and rational reasoning.”
Imagination was one of about 50 Cadence customers who shared best practices and other design techniques at the Cadence Theater at this summer’s Design Automation Conference in San Francisco. The other presentations are also available from the DAC microsite.