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Achieving Requirements Traceability from Concept through Design and Test

Achieving Requirements Traceability from Concept through Design and Test
by Daniel Payne on 05-09-2017 at 12:00 pm

Excel is a wonderful, general purpose spreadsheet tool that lets me organize and analyze rows and columns of data into something meaningful, however it doesn’t know anything about requirements traceability for complex semiconductor projects. So why do so many engineering teams still rely upon Excel or custom, in-house tools? It’s probably because of perceived lower costs, institutional momentum, and the typical NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome. Safety critical industries like automotive, aircraft and medical all have standards that must be adhered to during the design process, and they share a common need – requirements traceability from concept through production. Two software companies have teamed up to integrate their toolsets into something that really does help teams achieve requirements traceability, Jama Software and Methodics. I just attended their joint webinar and will share what they talked about.

Many webinars have a survey at the very end, however today this webinar asked one question right up front, “How are you managing your IP today?” Answers were in four categories:

  • Spreadsheets (Excel), 38%
  • Homegrown tools, 25%
  • IP management software, 25%
  • Other, 13%

Our webinar host was Trevor Smith from Jama Software, and we first met here in Portland, Oregon to get acquainted back in March. He introduced Vishal Moondrha from Methodics, who then reviewed the safety standards used in each industry: automotive, medical and aerospace.

For example in Automotive with the ISO 26262 standard one critical question is how to connect the SoC implementation to the high-level requirements. There has to be a way to manage all of the semiconductor IP, files, scripts and software tool versions. You can even define IP to mean much more than just re-usable semiconductor IP blocks:

  • PDKs and libraries
  • Memories
  • EDA and other software tools
  • New semiconductor IP blocks
  • Derivative semiconductor IP blocks
  • Internal and external IP blocks
  • All files and scripts

Related blog – CTO Interview, Peter Theunis of Methodics

The Methodics worldview is that IP is everything that enables your electronics design, so why not track it all in one convenient place? Methodics has such a tool and they call it ProjectIC, an IP lifecycle management platform. Here’s a diagram of the main features for ProjectIC:

What makes ProjectIC so useful for semiconductor design is how it manages so much of the design and re-use process with:

  • IP version tracking
  • Bug tracking
  • Release management
  • IP usage tracking
  • Workspace tracking
  • Design files
  • Permissions
  • Hierarchy
  • Hooks
  • Labels and custom fields

Related blog – Requirements Management and IP Management Working Together

Instead of importing or migrating data from other tools into ProjectIC, they take a different approach by leaving all of your design data in its native format for every software tool, then let you visualize results inside of ProjectIC through pre-built integrations. Here’s a diagram showing how ProjectIC connects with seven other software vendor tools:

Related blog – IC Design Management, Build or Buy?

The specific integration between ProjectIC and Jama Software lets you create and manage requirements inside of Jama, while being able to view the results while inside of ProjectIC:

Next up in the webinar was Kevin Andrewjeski of Jama Software and he ran their software live to show how requirements can be created, viewed, managed and traced. The GUI for the Jama Software had the familiar menus on the top, and tabbed widgets to view hierarchy quickly and easily, spanning all of the hardware and software sides for semiconductor products.

It’s refreshing to see a software company actually run their tools live during a webinar, instead of feeding us canned screen shots in a PowerPoint slide deck. With Jama you can trace each requirement, see if each was fully covered, know how it was tested, and know if it all is verified. One feature that impressed me was how in Jama you could send an IP block out for review, and ask the question, “Should I re-use this block again in my new project?” The review team will see all of the verification tests in greater detail, and you can invite users to a review meeting by sending out an email. Your team can then review the project online and approve each requirement, mark it up for more work, or provide written feedback. The project moderator can then see the entire team’s feedback on each approval, question or comment, all in one place. Way more automation than Excel could ever hope for.

Webinar Q&A

Q: Does this methodology allow me to track all verification IP?
A: (Methodics) Yes. Everything is IP, so we can connect all verification as IP and manage that process.

Q: How does Jama show compliance to 26262?
A: (Jama) There are no restrictions on defining IP and requirements as you adhere to the ISO 26262 standard. Traceability goes from requirements at the top, all the way down to implementation.

Q: Are the requirements tied to an instance of IP?
A: (Methodics) ProjectIC is IP centric. One block can be re-used several times across multiple projects. The IP remains centralized, so any changes made to the IP are made one time and the effect is felt in each project. You can find out any bugs with re-used IP blocks.

Q: Does a user have to write that code in slides 15-17 to connect ProjectIC with Jama, or is that included in the integration?
A: (Methodics) It’s prebuilt and included with the integration, verified and tested.

Q: Can we import spreadsheets into Jama as requirements?
A: (Jama) Yes, there’s both import/export for Word/Excel.
A: (Methodics) Yes, we have imports using templates and custom scripts. You decide how much info to import with each IP block.

Q: Can I automate checking of successful testing?
A: (Methodics) Yes, you can find out how many regressions were run, then know which ones passed or failed.
A: (Jama) Verification results originate here, and connect to your specific testing systems, which are then also made visible in ProjectIC.

Q: What is the size and scale of your implementations at customers?
A: (Methodics) We support the biggest companies in the world, thousands of users in a single enterprise. 500K files per design. 10,000+ IP blocks, worldwide teams across all geographies.
A: (Jama) Customers may start with small projects, others are worldwide in scale. Over 20,000,000 items are tracked in Jama at one large company. 11 of the top 25 semiconductor companies are using Jama.

Q: What do I do when my version of Jama and Methodics updates?
A: (Methodics) The integration interface has been constant for the past two years, so we don’t expect the integration to break, it’s quite unlikely to happen.

If you’re team is designing for the automotive, medical or aerospace industries then you’re all too familiar with the safety standards out there, so why not use some automation from Jama and Methodics to make your requirements traceability way easier to enter, manage and update?

View the archived webinar online.

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