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SystemC tool 'automates' ESL-to-RTL design flow

Posted: 11 Nov 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:spiratech? cohesive? systemc interface model? esl-to-rtl debugger? cohesive transformer?

Offering technology that it claims will automate the electronic-system-level (ESL)-to-RTL design flow, startup SpiraTech Ltd. has announced Cohesive, a toolset that bridges multiple levels of abstraction. Based on SystemC interface models, it claims to provide the first ESL-to-RTL debugger, system-level performance profiler and multilevel protocol checker.

"To get from ESL to silicon you have to have a flow from ESL to RTL, and that does not exist in any ESL platform from any of the major vendors," said Simon Calder, VP of sales and marketing at SpiraTech. "This is the first tool that really offers ESL users an automated flow to RTL."

The toolset includes Cohesive Transformer, an ESL-to-RTL debugger; Cohesive Adaptors, which are SystemC interface models for protocols such as PCI and AMBA AHB; and Cohesive Generator, which allows users to produce their own adaptors.

The result, said Gary Smith, chief EDA analyst at Gartner Dataquest, is a communications compiler. That's an emerging area of ESL that includes vendors like Sonics and Novilit. "I think they [SpiraTech] have a good shot," Smith said, noting that the technical team behind the company has been working on ESL since the early 1990s.

With Cohesive, SpiraTech is making its second attempt to enter the ESL market. In August 2002, the company announced a proprietary language, CY, and the Sorceri toolset to support it. SpiraTech's founders had previously developed languages and tools for Fujitsu's U.K.-based International Computers Ltd (ICL) subsidiary, including the proprietary Chisle and VHDL+ languages.

Since the 2002 introduction of CY, Calder said, it become clear that SystemC would become the standard ESL language. As such, he said, the company discontinued CY, leveraged some of the underlying technology in Sorceri, and changed its emphasis to abstraction adaptation, "the real problem of ESL."

Calder noted that every other migration in abstraction levels has involved different ways of looking at ones and zeroes. Not so with the shift from RTL to ESL. "With ESL, you're talking about three or four abstraction levels, and some only understand system-level transactions, or cells, or packets," he said. "A considerable amount of adaptation has to be done so some entity talking at a system level can communicate with another entity talking in ones and zeroes."

Because Cohesive can work across all of the ESL abstraction levels, SpiraTech has coined the term, "full spectrum abstraction adaptation." According to the company, ESL abstraction levels include the programmer's view (PV), sometimes called instruction-accurate; programmer's view with timing (PVT), sometimes called performance-accurate; cycle callable (CC), where timing relates to transaction cycles; and cycle-accurate (CA), where timing approaches the precision of RTL.

An "adaptor," according to SpiraTech, is a SystemC interface model that allows communications from every level of abstraction to every other level. SpiraTech offers Cohesive Adaptors for PCI Express, AMBA AHB, and UARTs, with protocols such as Ethernet and USB in the works. To write one yourself, Calder claimed, would take two to three man-years of effort.

The Cohesive Generator tool lets users capture an interface specification and compile an adaptor automatically. But it requires a fair amount of training, Calder acknowledged.

Because Cohesive can work across all of the ESL abstraction levels, SpiraTech has coined the term, "full spectrum abstraction adaptation." According to the company, ESL abstraction levels include the programmer's view (PV), sometimes called instruction-accurate; programmer's view with timing (PVT), sometimes called performance-accurate; cycle callable (CC), where timing relates to transaction cycles; and cycle-accurate (CA), where timing approaches the precision of RTL.

An "adaptor," according to SpiraTech, is a SystemC interface model that allows communications from every level of abstraction to every other level. SpiraTech offers Cohesive Adaptors for PCI Express, AMBA AHB, and UARTs, with protocols such as Ethernet and USB in the works. To write one yourself, Calder claimed, would take two to three man-years of effort.

The Cohesive Generator tool lets users capture an interface specification and compile an adaptor automatically. But it requires a fair amount of training, Calder acknowledged.

Because Cohesive can work across all of the ESL abstraction levels, SpiraTech has coined the term, "full spectrum abstraction adaptation." According to the company, ESL abstraction levels include the programmer's view (PV), sometimes called instruction-accurate; programmer's view with timing (PVT), sometimes called performance-accurate; cycle callable (CC), where timing relates to transaction cycles; and cycle-accurate (CA), where timing approaches the precision of RTL.

An "adaptor," according to SpiraTech, is a SystemC interface model that allows communications from every level of abstraction to every other level. SpiraTech offers Cohesive Adaptors for PCI Express, AMBA AHB, and UARTs, with protocols such as Ethernet and USB in the works. To write one yourself, Calder claimed, would take two to three man-years of effort.

The Cohesive Generator tool lets users capture an interface specification and compile an adaptor automatically. But it requires a fair amount of training, Calder acknowledged.

While Adaptors could conceivably be used on their own, the Cohesive Transformer requires at least one Adaptor to work. This debugging tool displays the cause-and-effect relationships between different levels of abstraction.

In addition to simulation debugging, the Transformer captures and relates performance metrics, such as reads, writes, transactions and events. It also allows protocol checking at multiple levels of abstraction.

Calder noted that the Transformer can be used in a SystemC/HDL co-simulation environment; with SystemC alone; or with an HDL simulator alone. The Transformer currently supports the open-source SystemC simulator and Mentor Graphics' ModelSim RTL simulator.

Transformer is available now starting at $20,000. PCI and Amba AHB Adaptors are $10,000, and the UART Adaptor is $2,000. The Generator tool starts at $75,000.

- Richard Goering

EE Times





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