Last week I had the pleasure of meeting dozens of customers at CDNLive! Silicon Valley, and learning from the keynotes, in-depth technical papers, and synchronistic conversations throughout the event. Below are some highlights and themes that emerged.
Left to right: Keynote speakers Lip-Bu Tan (Cadence), Rick Cassidy (TSMC), Tom Lantzsch (ARM)
Two things about the keynotes linger in my mind: first, the extensive amount of cross-company and interdisciplinary cooperation (and sometimes "co-opetition") that is currently being deployed to get 28nm node parts shipping in volume; let alone settling the roadmaps down to 14nm. Granted, this isn't anything new - but with each passing conference (as the 14 nm "silicon end of days" approaches) the tenor of this grows more serious. (My colleague Robert Dwyer covers this point well in his event report).
The second set of keynote themes involved power, power, and one more thing wait ... oh yeah, it was power. Indeed, power was the central issue in Tom Lantzsch from ARM's keynote, which was prescient given concerns about the new iPad3 overheating were as yet unknown. This keynote also recalled "The ARM v. Intel fight just got good" theme prompted by ARM's 64 bit architecture announcements at ARM's Techcon. In short, I'll reiterate my oh-so-daring prediction I made back at CES that whoever can deliver the best MIPS/watt by a >= 50% margin will be the ultimate victor.
Functional & System Verification track highlights
Three main themes provided the context for the functional and system verification paper tracks: Metric-Driven Verification (MDV), Assertion-Based Verification (ABV), and of course the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) in all its flavors (pure SystemVerilog, UVM multi-language, low power, and systems /TLM). Much like at DVCon, the big take-away wasn't the novelty of these methodologies, but their high-degree of maturity. Plus, most of the papers described how one or more of the methodologies were used simultaneously to reinforce one another; boosting the given team's productivity while providing actionable data to make fateful choices with confidence.
The papers, Q&A, and related discussions were all effectively deep dives about real world, production project usage of these methodologies and the supporting tools. As such, I urge you to download the proceedings when they become available -- http://www.cdnlive.com/ - there is literally something for everyone.
While the expo was a relaxed forum to network with customers and partners, it also provided an opportunity for me to further promote Team Verify's "apps" approach. What's a formal "app"? In a nutshell, we structure formal/ABV-driven solutions to address very specific, high-value problems in a way that's familiar and/or easy for any engineer use, and that are relatively easy for formal and formal+simulation to solve.
While we showed serious production apps like coverage unreachability in one of the demo pods, I was privileged to highlight the Rubik's cube solving app. Specifically, leveraging a mechanical design by Lego Mindstorms wizard Hans Andersson, the brain of the setup is a single SVA assertion that is solved in a few seconds by Incisive Formal Verifier (IFV). (The core program is a single SVA assertion (in a nutshell, "never (solved cube)"), which IFV solves and then produces a counter-example which turns out to be the optimal solution to the cube. A script translates the counter-example signals into a set of actuator commands for the robot to execute.) As you can see in the video above, human "speed cubers" relished competing against the machine. (FYI, Team Verify's other formal/ABV game app is a Sudoku solver - and there is a Lego robot we could adapt for that app too.)
Until next CDNLive Silicon Valley, may your throughput be high and your power consumption be low!
Joe Hupcey III
On Twitter: @jhupcey -- http://twitter.com/jhupcey
CDNLive! proceedings will be posted here:
Richard Goering: CDNLive! Keynote - Lip-Bu Tan Cites Semiconductor Growth Drivers
Richard Goering: CDNLive! Keynote - New Horizons for ARM Based SoCs
Richard Goering: TSMC CDNLive! Keynote - "We Can Beat Moore's Law"
Robert Dwyer: Collaboration, Concurrency, and Convergence: CDNLive! Silicon Valley 2012