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JOSE, Calif.—Ever seen an Eierlegende Wollmilchsau? If you have, you're
sitting on an electronics design automation gold mine.
was the question Cadence's Frank Schirrmeister posed Monday to a gathering of
design engineers at ICCAD at the San Jose Hilton.
Wollmilchsau" is German for an animal that's part pig, sheep, and chicken;
in other words, a beast that produces wool, eggs and meat—a lot of things in
one package. Whether there actually is an Eierlegende Wollmilchsau we'll get to
in a minute.
point was this "one-size-fits-all" solution is a sort-of holy grail
in design engineering. This is especially so because the complexity of designs
is increasing by the day, time-to-market pressures are unrelenting, and the
landscape of technology providers is shifting under our feet.
for example, that semiconductor vendors provide more and more software
functionality as their customers move up the value chain; SoCs can
incorporate as many as 100 or more IP blocks from many different vendors.
Software must be modeled as hardware is developed; we know this if we're to get
a design out the door before mandatory retirement age.
all well and good, but who models what during the design? Schirrmeister, who is
Cadence group director, product marketing, for system development, said:
"Over the last 15
years or so ... the value chain has changed completely, which has resulted in a
big need of models to be exchanged. You have all these providers providing
models of the hardware to the next person in the chain to build systems, and then at
the end to provide an environment in which the software, like the OS..., [must] be developed in parallel, otherwise you look at a very long pole in the
challenge is there is no Eierlegende Wollmilchsau. The software development kit
may be fast, "but it basically ignores hardware. At the end (of the
spectrum), I have real-time speed and I'm fully accurate, but I'm really late,
and it's fairly difficult to debug," Schirrmeister argued.
between, he added, there are different engines that all require different
models. In some cases, engineers trade off speed for accuracy or vice versa.
complexity and various design demands will never abate, solutions have to be
found if we're to continue the pace of innovation. That's where the notion of
verification hybrids comes in. (Examples shown in image below).
example, Schirrmeister said, "if you combine the virtual prototyping world
with the RTL implementation and create hybrids, you have the potential for good
solution. That's really where the industry is going."
that case, RTL is good for modeling complex hardware items with good hardware
debug early on, on the one hand. Virtual prototyping helps engineers bring in
software early on and is good for software debug, Schirrmeister said.
As you move toward the end of the design flow, you
can also consider a hybrid in
which you bring up real RTL with software and use emulation for gate-level
simulation. That can be handy to bring together your software, hardware, and
power profiles and run much longer cycles, he said. For other example of
intriguing hybrid use cases, please see Richard Goering's posts "Palladium XP II—Two
New Use Models for Hardware/Software Verification" and "Designer View: New
Emulation Use Models Employ Virtual Targets."
the end, it would be amazing to come across a Eierlegende
Wollmilchsau, but it's not going to happen, according to Schirrmeister.
told the ICCAD audience:
"There is no one
size fits all. Each of those representations has modeling requirements, has
different advantages and disadvantages. If you can combine virtual platforms
with, for example, acceleration and emulation for hardware debug, it gives you
a good solution to trade speed for software development in a
virtual platform with acceleration, emulation, and hardware accuracy
because you can fully look into the RTL."
—Designer View: New
Emulation Use Models Employ Virtual Targets
—Palladium XP II—Two
New Use Models for Hardware/Software Verification