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Over the past couple of years there
has been some interest in applying a software development technique called unit
testing in the hardware development flow. One of the reasons is that unit
tests allow customers to validate their testbench in isolation, enabling very
fast and thorough tests. Some customers have developed their own framework to
accomplish this testing. In the Incisive 13.2 release, Cadence has introduced
this functionality with Specman/e to enable customers to apply the unit test
approach to save long simulation times, since they can isolate functions and
test them without actually running any simulation, thus improving
the testbench quality and potentially reducing the debug time for testbench
code more than 30%.
What are unit tests?
Simple and directed tests
Checks that a feature
does something as expected (e.g. a parity calculation method returns the
correct parity for a handful of values)
Created by the developer
that develops/writes the source code
What are unit tests used for?
To check that the
implementation of a small piece of code (e.g. a single method/function) is
Some customers may think that unit testing is an extra
overhead, and there is little automation for creating test cases. So, why
should they develop and use unit tests?
Customers can check the
implementation of a method that normally takes many simulation cycles in no
simulation time (e.g. a complex checking method which requires streams of
input, output, and control data). in unit testing, you would provide all the
input/output and control data, call the method, and check that is calculates the
If other teams reuse code
(and this happens a lot with verification code), they can check if the core
testbench functions still work, or if something is broken
If you want some more details, have a look at this archived
webinar - Testing
the Testbench on the e-unit package and/or read the blog on Agile SOC ... Finally... A Reason For Me to Try Specman
Other references worthwhile reviewing are some articles and
a unit test framework utility by AgileSOC