Sunday, April 29, 2012

SVA : System Verilog Assertion is for Designer too!!

Dear Reader,

I have been hearing one question over SVA is "Is System Verilog Assertion is for Designer too?". Usually the impression is 'System Verilog is for Verification'. I agree with this impression to some extend but there are some strong constructs in SV which adds values for designers too for design coding !

Actually System Verilog is nothing but a extension of Verilog, It has everything to support Verilog with lots of new features for Verification as well as for design!! This is again one important topic to discuss, I will try to cover this in some other blog post. Here I would try to capture question which I have mentioned above "Is System Verilog Assertion is for Designer too?".

Simple answer to this question is "YES" !!

Usually Verification engineers add assertions to a design after the HDL models have been written which means placing the assertions on module boundaries to signals within the model, or modifying the design models to insert assertions within the code.

Design Engineers can/should write assertion within a design while the HDL models are being coded. Usually here is where main question/challenges occurred, what type of scenario or assertions designer should provide within design? Answer to this question is : Decision should made before design work begins.

There is no doubt that 'Verilog Checks like assertions can be added into a design using the standard Verilog language' But I would like to point out some drawbacks on writing verilog checks like assertions this way,

1. Complex Verilog checks can require writing complex Verilog code.
2. Checks written in Verilog will appear to be part of the RTL model to a synthesis compiler.
3. Verilog assertion/checks will be active throughout simulation, there are ways to control over it but there is no simple way like SVA does with system functions ($assertoff, $asserton, $assertkill etc..)
Please read my blog post on "SVA Control Methods"

Let me explain some advantages for designer with SVA:

1. SystemVerilog assertions are ignored by synthesis. The designer does not need to include translate_off / translate_on scattered throughout the RTL code.
2. SystemVerilog Assertions can easily be disabled or enabled at any point during simulation, as needed. This is a beauty of SVA!! Don't you think ?

I have covered 2nd advantage in my blog post "SVA Control Method"

These advantages allows designer to add assertions to RTL code and gives a flexibility to disable the assertions for simulation speed later in the design process. Using this control methods we can focus to a specific region of the design by controlling assertions dynamically or disabling respected assertion in the design.

Suggestions and Comments are always welcome.

ASIC With Ankit

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