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Q&A With Nick Heaton: Accelerating Verification Methodology and Tool Adoption

Comments(0)Filed under: Functional Verification, Plan and metrics management, Verification methodology , Enterprise Manager, metric driven verification (MDV), workshops, Incisive, IPCM, MDV, methodology

nick.heatonTeamMDV:  Have you ever wondered why EDA Vendors don't make it easier for our customers to learn new techniques and methodologies, or at least provide a solid reference flow to try out new releases of the tools or to be able to compare releases on the same flow?  Well, hold on,  TeamMDV is pleased to tell you about something Incisive has had for a while now to accelerate methodology and tool changes, and its called the Incisive Verification Kit.  Here to tell you all about it is Nick Heaton, senior solutions architect with Cadence, and the engineering group manager for the Incisive Verification Kit.  What is a kit you ask?  Many of our customers are asking the very same question so here to shed some light on the subject is Nick.

Welcome Nick, the most obvious question is, what is the Incisive Verification Kit and how can it help our Incisive users? 

NickHeaton:  Our customers are drowning in verification, they are bombarded with wave after wave of Methodology and Tool updates, the Incisive Verification Kit is their lifeboat. The kit combines a real design with actual OVM testbenches into a realistic verification environment which in combination with the workshop and lab content enables users to fully experience Incisive tools in a real world setting.  Incisive customers can use the kit to learn new techniques and methodologies, test out new approaches, use it as an on-line reference, or build their own flows and solution based on the kit code for their own use. This last point is similar to what a CAD department might do when releasing new flows, only now it's built on top of a vendor supplied design.  The kit is centered around Metric Driven Verification (MDV) which evolved from what was previously called Incisive Plan-to-Closure Methodology (IPCM).  We have gone out of our way to ensure wherever possible that the components of the design and verification are provided in source form.  All the design components are real, and all the components necessary for a full Ethernet Switch SOC with an AMBA bus fabric between IP blocks are provided.

Why is the kit being showcased as part of the TeamMDV blog - what is the relationship?

NickHeaton:  Metric Driven Verification (MDV) IS the big new thing in verification, and it's the job of the kit to show users how to achieve unparalleled productivity and predictability using the MDV techniques.   At the lowest level, this is demonstrated with simple IP blocks, a UART design is one block we have done a tremendous amount of work around for example.  The MDV examples in the kit start at the block level with detailed examples of how to build testbenches for all the OVM languages and run large regressions on them. The kit then shows how to move up to the cluster level maximizing the reuse of as many components created at the block-level. It is here you really begin to see the power of the MDV solution, automated test generation with the Cadence VIP portfolio, full and comprehensive re-use of everything from the OVM testbench to executable verification plans, hierarchical measurement of results allowing you to look at coverage of a specific feature, and drill all the way down to the individual technical elements that make up that feature.  And at the SOC level MDV is the key to managing the overwhelming magnitude and sheer number of tests that are needed. MDV at this level is all about visibility, test automation, and regression management.

You sound truly energized and excited about this Nick, but why should a user care?

NickHeaton:  Verification is still the single biggest issue in chip design, Cadence has spent a significant amount of time and money to give users a reference flow for verification that is substantially better than any cookbook or guide ever could be.  When you really need to reduce your verification time or you would really like to know when you are done, the kit combined with MDV is the answer.  It will get you there. The kit is executable and mature - we are on our 7th release now and it is free to any Incisive user (IES-XL, IEV and IFV).   The kit is such a stellar environment we even use it ourselves internally to validate our tools prior to release. Because the kit is a complex and realistic example it was the obvious choice as the vehicle for doing regression testing of our software solutions. Most of the kit flows use multiple Incisive products and hence the kit provides a test vehicle which closely represents how user will interact with our tools, so you can say, we use our own technology to test our own technology.

What kind of content is in the kit and how does it help me understand MDV?

NickHeaton:  To start off with, the kit is automatically installed when users install the INCISIV solution.  You have a choice to install the small version (IP Level) or the full version (SOC Level).  The kit is integrated into the CDNSHelp system as a front end user interface - so all kit documents around methodology, flows, how to's, and examples, are combined with user manuals and reference guides for the tools themselves.  So from one spot, you have a comprehensive reference to the world of verification.  When you execute the script for a particular flow, it invokes the tools, and users get to interact with that to learn new skills.   The kit has over 15 different workshops on various topics, such as how to build an OVM testbench, or building an MDV environment.  Each workshop has around 3 to 5 hands on labs with instructions so users can practice in the real world on a real design with a real testbench. The kit even has short quick start videos for users to watch to get an overview of a particular methodology. 

How do users find out more information about both the kit and MDV in general?

NickHeaton: Well users can start right here on Cadence.com - there is a description of the kit, a datasheet, a whitepaper, and links to video's that users can watch.   Users looking for the latest 9.2 release detailed description of the workshops and labs may contact their local Cadence representative, a comprehensive presentation is available for Incisive users.  And, for previous IPCM users, the eRM libraries that used to be provided with IPCM are now available on OVMWorld and with the Incisive release, all of the other IPCM examples and techtorial information has been migrated to the kit.      





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