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Will formal apps dominate verification?

11 Sep 2014  | Mike Bartley

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Real Intent is currently seeing a lot of interest in analysis of the propagation of Xs (unknowns) and reset optimisation. Finally, Ashar added, "Because of the problem focus, debug information is easily provided that is relevant and actionable by design and verification engineers."

OneSpin Solutions includes a range of formal apps within its Design Verification 360 product line, including Connectivity, X-Propagation, Register Implementation, and other checks. The company has found that its DV 360 Verify Property Checker is now being adopted as a platform for domain experts to create their own highly specialised apps. It also provides a coverage solution as part of Verify to ensure verification closure that is focused on the formal process.

OneSpin's Quantify technology employs "Observation Coverage" to measure the effectiveness of verification checks in detecting design functionality changes as well as evaluating code reachability, leveraging formal engines to ensure a high degree of accuracy. The formal verification coverage data may be loaded into an Accellera Unified Coverage Interoperability Standard (UCIS) database from where it can be combined with simulation data using tools like asureSIGN from Test and Verification Solutions (TVS).

"Coverage is an essential mechanism to control complex verification processes," notes Dave Kelf of OneSpin. "It is essential that coverage data is read from many different sources, and Accellera has provided the mechanism to do this."

Mentor Graphics offers a full range of formal apps, many of which are of the Trojan horse variety. Some of the most widely used Questa Formal apps are fully automatic in nature, and they completely shield the user from the fact that the latest generation of formal engines are being used under the hood. These include CDC, RTL coding checks, X-checks, and property generation. In addition, the formal apps are fully integrated with simulation and emulation to create solutions that exploit multiple verification engines.

Mentor is seeing high growth in the adoption rate of Questa CoverCheck, its formal coverage closure solution. Roger Sabbagh, a 14-year veteran of Mentor's formal team, explains how: "By seamlessly switching between formal, simulation, and emulation to target a common goal, the strengths of each technology can be brought to bear on challenging verification tasks, such as coverage closure."

TVS has also seen strong demand for its Formal Verification Bootcamp, which helps delegates adopt both apps (from the client's chosen EDA vendor) and the more general-purpose formal verification flow through writing of design-specific SVA constraints and properties.

Mentor's Sabbagh concludes, "According to EDA Consortium reports, the formal property checking market grew by over 40 per cent last year and is expected to top the $100 million mark in 2014," which is a significant milestone.

Is this evidence enough to say Formal will dominate?

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