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Electrical test rolls

Posted: 23 Mar 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:verification intellectual property? ip? knowlent? electrical verification? opal pci express?

Proclaiming a new type of verification intellectual property (IP), EDA startup Knowlent Corp. will roll out its first products for the electrical verification of high-speed interfaces. Knowlent is also introducing itself to the chip design community.

The company's first commercial products are the Opal PCI Express and Opal Serial ATA electrical verification platforms (EVPs). Working on top of commercial Spice or fast Spice simulators, they are said to help automate the compliance tests that are needed to verify the electrical/physical sub-block (or physical layer) of standard interfaces.

There are various functional-verification IP offerings out there, said Knowlent founder and CEO Sandipan Bhanot. But electrical verification, he said, has up to now been done with "homegrown" methods.

"The first [Opal] users would be IP designers, who need to make sure their IP is compliant," Bhanot said. "But integrating a PHY [physical layer] is almost as big a challenge as designing a PHY. So it's also for the IP users who don't want to spend years verifying that."

Bhanot said that every interface spec has transaction, data link and physical layers. Knowlent focuses on the latter. For PCI Express, he said, there are about 100 compliance tests that designers need to check.

The Opal products encapsulate all of the tests and assertions listed in the electrical interface specifications, and provide a direct correlation between measured results and their source. The tools work with simulators, including HSpice, Ultrasim, Nanosim and HSIM, and set up the necessary compliance tests.

"Right now, if people run Spice, they need to write their own setup scripts for everything," Bhanot said. "The unique thing we bring is a one-click flow. People don't need to set up files to do dc, ac, transient and network analyses."

These types of tests are set up by "adapters" that are attached to the interface PHY IP. Users get back a report that "looks like a spreadsheet," Bhanot said. It reports passes, failures and measured values for each test in the spec. It shows minimum-maximum numbers and reports process corners. Opal produces eye diagrams and allows users to run a sensitivity analysis or Monte Carlo simulation.

The models that come with the Opal EVPs are a work in progress, Bhanot acknowledged. "Right now we use standard load models that can drive so many inches of FR4 [PCB trace]," Bhanot said. "What we plan to do in the future is add models of real components."

Knowlent has quietly been shipping Opal since the end of 2004, and counts ARM Ltd as a customer.

The PCI Express and Serial ATA EVPs are available now starting at $65,000 for a one-year license.

- Richard Goering

EE Times

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