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Novas tool lets designer see data from debugging

Posted: 01 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:verification tools? Novas Software Inc.? XX? Richard Goering? XX?

Swamped by the huge volume of 1s and 0s produced by verification tools, IC designers are struggling with visibility into the signal values they really want to see. A new type of tool is needed to address that problem, according to debugging provider Novas Software Inc.

Novas plans to introduce Siloti this week, a line of what Novas calls "visibility enhancement" tools. Aimed at bringing signal visibility to near-silicon and post-silicon applications, Siloti works with simulation regression testing, emulation, FPGA prototyping and post-silicon debugging.

Named for a little-known composer, Siloti has three basic steps. It analyzes the design to determine which signals are needed for full visibility; it expands the limited data of the essential signals to derive missing information; and it correlates low-level representations with RTL descriptions. Siloti works with Novas' Verdi debugging tool.

Verification tools today produce "a very large firehose-type stream of 1s and 0s," said Scott Sandler, Novas president and CEO. "The problem is that an enormous amount of energy goes into deciding which 1s and 0s get out, and there's a very expensive cost with dumping those 1s and 0s."

While Novas and other providers have worked to make the dump file format more complex, today's complex circuits have overwhelmed that effort, Sandler said. "We determined that another approach is needed to reduce information overload," he said. "By producing the Siloti technology, there's a paradigm shift that has tremendous impact on reducing the cost of getting the data you need to complete the verification process."

Siloti is most useful late in verification, as dump files tend to get out of hand, Sandler said. Emulation in particular dumps large quantities of data without much visibility, he said. The original idea for Siloti, he said, came from Verdi customers trying to do post-silicon debugging in the lab.

"They were hampered by poor visibility, and asked if there was any way to use Verdi's formal analysis to get back some of the missing information," Sandler said. Novas started developing a solution for post-silicon debugging and realized that presilicon tasks like emulation and simulation regression testing were also "visibility challenged," he said.

In brief, Sandler said, Siloti "analyzes the design to figure out what's essential and then fills in the gaps." The Siloti family includes SilVE, which contains the full range of capability, and SimVE, a subset aimed specifically at simulation. Pricing begins at $65,000 and the solutions are available now.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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