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Multivoltage verification solution eases low-power design

Posted: 16 Jul 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:multivoltage verification? low power design? functional specifications?

An increasing number of IC designs use multiple supply voltages to conserve power, but multiple power domains are difficult to verify. ArchPro Design Automation Inc. has addressed that challenge with MaVeric (pronounced "maverick"), which it described as a comprehensive multivoltage verification solution.

MaVeric provides architectural profiling that tracks multivoltage states, transitions and sequences. It then generates multivoltage assertions and tracks coverage during simulation. It also produces voltage-aware functional specifications for cells and intellectual property (IP) blocks, and it verifies power management in the context of the overall system architecture.

The offering comes as designers are struggling with low-power designs that require the verification of multiple voltage "islands." The challenge is especially acute when techniques such as power gating, dynamic voltage scaling, and dynamic frequency and voltage scaling are added to the mix. ArchPro claims to support all these techniques with MaVeric.

The solution incorporates the features of ArchPro's two previously introduced verification products: MVSIM, a multivoltage co-simulator that works with mainstream logic simulators to verify multiple voltages; and MVRC, a multivolt rule checker that provides a static check without test vectors. It also adds considerably more features, said Srikanth Jadcherla, founder and chief technology officer of ArchPro.

One new component is architectural profiling, a vectorless process that looks at voltage variations across the design and tracks power-state interactions and transitions, Jadcherla said. MaVeric then writes out assertions and coverage requirements. These are routed to the simulation environment, and when the simulation runs, assertions and coverage requirements are tracked automatically.

Model creation supported
Another new feature, "electrically aware verification," lets users create their own standard-cell or IP models. MVSIM provided a limited model creation capability for a few elements such as voltage regulators, but with MaVeric, users can create any kind of dynamic simulation model, Jadcherla said. That could include such elements as level shifters, retention registers and I/O cells. In most cases, he said, users can just parameterize existing models rather than write new ones.

Input to MaVeric includes RTL or netlist code; a testbench; and power intent expressed in the Unified Power Format, Common Power Format or a user's proprietary format. Outputs include reports that track crossovers, and assertion coverage and failures.

MaVeric works with third-party simulators, including Synopsys Inc.'s VCS, Cadence Design Systems Inc.'s NC-Sim and Mentor Graphics Corp.'s ModelSim. It also works with simulation viewing and debugging tools from Novas Software Inc.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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