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Verification is the top challenge in mixed-signal design. Bringing analog and digital domains together into unified verification planning, simulating, and debugging is a challenging task for rapidly increasing size and complexity of mixed-signal designs. To more completely verify functionality and performance of a mixed-signal SoC and its AMS IP blocks used to build it, verification teams use simulations at transistor, analog behavioral and real-number model (RNM) and RTL levels, and combination of these.
In recent years, RNM and simulation is being adopted for functional verification by many, due to advantages it offers including simpler modeling requirements and much faster simulation speed (compared to a traditional analog behavioral models like Verilog-A or VHDL-AMS). Verilog-AMS with its wreal continue to be popular choice. Standardization of real number extensions in SystemVerilog (SV) made SV-RNM an even more attractive choice for MS SoC verification.
Verilog-AMS/wreal is scalar real type. SV-RNM offers a powerful ability to define complex data types, providing a user-defined structure (record) to describe the net value. In a typical design, most analog nodes can be modeled using a single value for passing a voltage (or current) from one module to another. The ability to pass multiple values over a net can be very powerful when, for example, the impedance load impact on an analog signal needs to be modeled. Here is an example of a user-defined net (UDN) structure that holds voltage, current, and resistance values:
When there are multiple drives on a single net, the simulator will need a resolution function to determine the final net value. When the net is just defined as a single real value, common resolution functions such as min, max, average, and sum are built into the simulator. But definition of more complex structures for the net also requires the user to provide appropriate resolution functions for them. Here is an example of a net with three drivers modeled using the above defined structural elements (a voltage source with series resistance, a resistive load, and a current source):
To properly solve for the resulting output voltage, the resolution function for this net needs to perform Norton conversion of the elements, sum their currents and conductances, and then calculate the resolved output voltage as the sum of currents divided by sum of conductances.
With some basic understanding of circuit theory, engineers can use SV-RNM UDN capability to model electrical behavior of many different circuits. While it is primarily defined to describe source/load impedance interactions, its use can be extended to include systems including capacitors, switching circuits, RC interconnect, charge pumps, power regulators, and others. Although this approach extends the scope of functional verification, it is not a replacement for transistor-level simulation when accuracy, performance verification, or silicon correlation are required: It simply provides an efficient solution for discretely modeling small analog networks (one to several nodes). Mixed-signal simulation with an analog solver is still the best solution when large nonlinear networks must be evaluated.
Cadence provides a tutorial on EEnet usage as well as the package (EEnet.pkg) with UDN definitions and resolution functions and modeling examples. To learn more, please login to your Cadence account to access the tutorial.