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SystemC assertions go 'native'

Posted: 03 Apr 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Native SystemC assertion? integrated development environment? IDE? Jeda Technologies Inc.? Richard Goering?

Verification startup Jeda Technologies Inc. believes so strongly in SystemC that it shelved its own Jeda verification language. The result is a new tool suite that is said to have the industry's first "native" SystemC assertion-based verification automation capability.

At the recent DVCon conference in California, Jeda rolled out Native SystemC assertion (NSCa), a tool suite that includes an assertion syntax and an integrated development environment (IDE) with debugging, coverage and tracing tools. Jeda is also providing a bidirectional SystemVerilog-to-NSCa assertion translator and an OCP-IP checker with compliance checks for the OCP-IP bus protocol.

It's quite a change for the startup, which was launched to commercialize the Jeda hardware verification language developed at Juniper Networks. Jeda's founders had previously been involved in the creation of the Vera language at Sun Microsystems. The Jeda language and Jeda-X testbench product worked well, said Steve Pollock, VP of marketing and sales at Jeda, but it was time to move on.

Pollock noted that many users are trying to move upstream from RTL SystemVerilog assertions and the Property Specification Language, but lack the full power of C/C++ when they are writing assertions. And while designers could write assertions directly in the SystemC language, Pollock claimed that NSCa provides a fourfold to tenfold reduction in code because of its succinct syntax.

"The user has full capability of using anything in the C language and they can write as complex assertions as they want," Pollock said. He noted that designers can use "if" states, branching and stop-on-error capabilities with assertions. The present NSCa capability works with cycle-accurate assertions and future versions will support transaction-level assertions, he added.

NSCa is basically an extension to SystemC. It provides a front-end that helps users develop their code, a runtime evaluation engine and a complete assertion debugging environment, said Jeda CEO Eugene Zhang. He said that Jeda Technologies is committed to making NSCa an "open" standard.

Users can either write assertions directly in NSCa code or they can call the NSCa assertion macro functions from within their SystemC code. In either case, the code goes through a compilation and linking process, and the assertions can then run on any simulator that supports SystemC.

The IDE provides code-editing features and automated make-file creation. The debugger helps users analyze their assertions by providing a graphical view of the location of errors. Clicking on an error brings up the line of code where the error occurred. A coverage capability tells users which assertions passed, which failed and which never triggered.

NSCa syntax is said to be very similar to SystemVerilog assertions and Jeda provides a bidirectional translator with NBridge-SVA. Pollock said that except for some "well-documented exceptions," the translator can convert over 90 percent of all SystemVerilog assertions into NSCa.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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