Arm and Mentor Recently announced that the Arm Design Reviews program now offers Mentor help in verification design reviews. I talked to Paul Williams (Sr Consultant and Verification Practice Lead at Mentor Graphics) and Peter Lewin (Dir. Mktg at Arm Partner Enablement Group) to get more insight into Arm Design Services, particularly the verification angle. First, to be clear, the review is intended to address customer implementations of Arm subsystems in their SoCs together with connectivity from the subsystem into other parts of the SoC. Apart from that, you’ll still have to handle your own design reviews for the rest of your chip.
Arm were already offering design reviews covering architecture, security, RTL design, physical implementation, trusted firmware, power management firmware and Linux power and thermal frameworks. This week they announced with Mentor this RTL verification component with particular emphasis on reviews of plans to validate signal connectivity, coherency, correct implementation and system performance (all with respect to the Arm subsystem).
Paul kicked off by noting that Mentor have been doing quite a lot of verification services and review work over the years working with Arm as a customer. Now they’re taking this outside to Arm customers.
The Mentor approach to review has three components. The first stage is a high-level view of the verification architecture – the big picture plan and structure. The second stage is a more detailed verification plan review – drilling down into the plan, what will need to be created or modified, schedule and resources allocated to various components of the plan. The final stage review comes towards the end of the project when they review coverage, which components of the plan are still incomplete and how those gaps might be addressed.
Assessment and recommendations
Paul pointed out the wide range of design application types they encounter. They see everything from massive multi-processor coherent system with huge complexity to a little MPU to detect if you shut the car door correctly.
The design review service allows them to fit advice and recommendations to each need. They start with the same process that Arm already use for their design reviews. This is a written questionnaire, to help them set the scope. This guides who they will bring to the interview sessions. For example, if questions about formal or functional safety come up, they know who they’ll want to bring in.
On methodologies, Paul was quick to point out that they don’t recommend tools, but they do recommend techniques. If a part of the test plan needs a lot of small tests – great candidate for massively parallelized simulation. When testing a satellite link, need to pump through lots of data, emulation makes more sense. If they need to prove a control FSM, or sets of FSMs, can never deadlock, this is an obvious candidate for formal.
He added, no surprise that techniques like formal are often not in the mainstream for a number of these clients. The review is a chance for them to talk to experts. To get a better understanding of what might be possible if they can stretch a little. They’ll also discuss UVM, C and PSS approaches, assertion-based verification and requirements traceability. Again as appropriate to the needs of the client. Sounds like a valuable service, especially for module makers and system companies. Design teams who don’t live and breathe all the latest and greatest advances in RTL verification. You can learn more about the Arm/Mentor partnership HERE.