First, I wish there were more conferences/workshops like this. This is much more about sharing ideas and brainstorming than the stark commercialism of DAC. I presented Atrenta’s role in enabling 3[SUP]rd[/SUP]-party IP qualification for the TSMC soft IP library.
My presentation slides are located here:
Our collaboration with TSMC was officially launched almost 3 years ago, with the goal of ensuring a standard set of quality measures for any soft IP certified by that library. Certification is based on the Atrenta IP Kit, a kit delivery of standard SpyGlass® functionality and rules, spanning:
- advanced lint (checks for FSM deadlock states for example)
- clock domain crossing (synchronization) analysis
- early testability analysis (both stuck-at and at-speed)
- SDC constraints best practices (including formal validation of timing exceptions)
- Power profiling and validation of power intent
- Pre-layout physical analysis (early timing, area and congestion estimation)
This is the most comprehensive suite of (non-functional) quality checks in the industry and we are understandably proud to have been selected by TSMC to enable this soft-IP quality gate. We worked closely with them to fine-tune checks and our dashboard pass/fail metrics to ensure a simple, no argument assessment of whether an IP clears the hurdle or not. To their credit, around 20 IP vendors (including some of the biggest) have signed up and are qualifying their products through this flow – and the list continues to grow.
We now see the next shoe starting to drop. Some leading IP consumers are implementing similar in-house IP usage qualification. Why isn’t this redundant? Because most IP these days is configurable. The supplier will certify a few common configurations but quite likely not the configuration you plan to use. A push-button qualification will re-validate that configuration for most of the above tests. This is, if you like, the application-specific complement to the IP-supplier signoff. And it doesn’t let the supplier off the hook. Push-button qualification of a specific configuration is only possible if the supplier ship the files necessary to re-qualify, which they do when they certify into the soft-IP library.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about functionality quality. What is a useful metric and handoff to an IP consumer in this area? Clearly it would be impractical to hand over test suites with an IP. Coverage metrics are an obvious answer, but you want some method of independent measurement to include in an objective signoff. Atrenta is working with TSMC and the IP vendors to incorporate a BugScope™ progressive coverage signoff as this metric. This will have the added benefit of a set of assertions that can be shipped with the IP, which may be valuable in debugging use-case problems.
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