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The Cadence acquisition of Jasper Design Automation this summer made Cadence the overnight leader in the formal verification market. Today the Formal and Automated Verification (FAV) group at Cadence is moving quickly towards unified formal solutions, and is sending formal technology in some promising new directions, according to a Technology Update and Roadmap session at the recent Jasper User Group (JUG) Conference.
In a keynote speech at JUG prior to the roadmap session, Oz Levia (right), general manager of FAV, revealed that Cadence will use the JasperGold platform as its “vehicle” for delivering the value of formal verification. The Roadmap session filled in the details. According to Boyd Donckels (left), vice president for R&D at FAV, Cadence goals with respect to formal technologies are as follows:
The FAV group unites Cadence and Jasper formal verification experts, and has over 100 R&D engineers working at five global R&D centers. “With the acquisition of Jasper, Cadence has far and away the largest formal verification R&D group on the planet,” Donckels said. “We’ll be able to do some really exciting things because of our investment in the formal domain.”
An Integrated Verification Environment
Donckels showed the following slide to demonstrate how formal technology from Jasper and Cadence will fit into the Cadence System Development Suite. The Jasper Visualize environment will be connected to the existing debug infrastructure. JasperGold will be integrated into the metrics infrastructure, allowing metric-driven verification with the Cadence Incisive vManager solution. Finally, formal-assisted simulation and emulation flows will be provided. “Formal is really being elevated to be a primary verification engine inside Cadence,” Donckels said.
While JasperGold will be the “go forward” platform for most of the R&D inside FAV, “we will absolutely continue to support IFV [Incisive Formal Verifier] and IEV [Incisive Enterprise Verifier] customers,” Donckels said.
So, what will the new Cadence Formal Verification Platform look like? It will be built upon the expanded framework that Jasper users are familiar with. It will include JasperGold and Incisive Formal apps such as those shown in the following list. It will include Visualize as an interactive GUI and debug environment, Jasper Intelligent Proof Kits, and deep integrations with Incisive simulation and metric-driven verification flows.
FAV expects to integrate Incisive Formal engines into JasperGold to complement the Jasper formal engines. Donckels noted that FAV is also investigating the integration of the Incisive constraint solver into the JasperGold platform.
Apps to the Rescue
Both Jasper and Cadence developed formal verification “apps,” which provide automated formal solutions that target specific problems. FAV is working to consolidate common apps including Connectivity Verification, Control/Status Register Verification, X Propagation Verification, and Structural Property Synthesis/Superlinting.
Meanwhile, Cadence has had a Coverage Unreachability (UNR) flow for some time. This is an important capability. After engineers run simulation and find coverage holes, UNR determines whether those holes are reachable. If not, they can be eliminated from the verification; if so, more test patterns should be added.
The diagram below shows how a UNR flow can reduce coverage closure schedules by a matter of weeks. The Jasper Behavioral Property Synthesis (BPS) app augments this flow by generating realistic constraints to find more unreachable coverage holes.
Alok Jain (left), senior group director for R&D at FAV, went into more detail with some of the upcoming integrations. He remarked that “the most exciting thing is that we will now have a single platform that has both the formal engines and simulation. We can integrate simulation in creative ways to solve hard problems.”
Jain said that Jasper and Incisive Formal engines are complementary enough that the combination of the engines will result in better performance and capacity. If JasperGold is incorporated all IFV engines, 20% of the properties would get a 5X speedup.
Finally, Jain noted that the Incisive constraint solver can improve JasperGold bug hunting performance, and bring a user-level constraint solving capability to Jasper tools. He also said that FAV is looking into an integration of “super linting” capabilities offered by the Jasper Structural Property Synthesis (SPS) app and the Cadence HAL utility.
Claudionor Coelho (right), senior group director for R&D at FAV, talked about ongoing work on an integrated debugging environment for Incisive and Jasper solutions. It will include Jasper’s Visualize, which Coelho called “the most advanced debugging solution in the market.”
The integration goes something like this: The user is debugging in IES. The user encounters a suspected bug that requires further exploration and analysis. The user sends RTL blocks to Visualize from within the Incisive debug environment for further analysis. Finally, the user debugs specific RTL blocks in the Visualize environment. Here, he or she can modify waveforms using Jasper QuietTrace and WaveEdit capabilities.
The Visualize environment has waveform generation, root-cause analysis, long waveform handling, assertion-based verification (ABV) debugging, graph debugging, and behavior indexing. It can handle partial RTL or incomplete constraints. Coelho demonstrated how engineers can narrow down the root cause, create waveforms without testbenches, capture properties from selections, combine multiple behaviors, and reuse items as RTL evolves.
It should be clear by now that Cadence has acquired far more than a collection of formal apps from Jasper. The combined technologies from Cadence and Jasper promise to take formal verification, and verification in general, to a future we can hardly imagine.
Proceedings from the Jasper User Group conference are available online (but not for the roadmap session).
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JUG Keynote – How Jasper Formal Verification Technology Fits into the Cadence Flow
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