Sunday, December 16, 2012

System Verilog : Functional Coverage Options features

Dear Readers,

Functional Coverage is very important in Test Bench Design. It gives us a confidence on covered items listed on verification plan/items. Usually the goal of verification engineer is to ensure that the design behaves correctly in its real environment.

Defining coverage model is very important for any test bench to get the enough confidence on design verification. You can read more on 'Coverage Model in System Verilog'

Here I would like to share some of the important feature of System Verilog Functional Coverage which helps engineer during verification activity.

Coverage Options available in System Verilog through which you can specify additional information in the cover group using provided options

1. Cover Group Comment - 'option.comment'
You can add a comment in to coverage report to make them easier while analysing:

covergroup CoverComment ;
  option.comment = "Register Definition section 1.1";
  coverpoint reg;

In example, you could see the usage of 'option.comment' feature. This way you can make the coverage group easier for the analysis.

2. Per Instance Coverage - 'option.per_instance'
In your test bench, you might have instantiated coverage group multiple times. By default System Verilog collects all the coverage data from all the instances. You might have more than one generator and they might generate different streams of transaction. In this case you may want to see separate reports. Using this option you can keep track of coverage for each instance.

covergroup CoverPerInstance ;
  coverpoint tr.byte_cnt;
  option.per_instance = 1;

3. Threshold using - 'option.at_least' 
This feature is useful when you don't have sufficient visibility in to the design to gather robust coverage. There might be the cases where you just have an information of number of cycles that are needed for the transfers to cover required errors to get generated/simulated for defined cover point. Here you could set the option.at_leaset. For example if we know that we need 10 cycles to cover this particular cover point, you could define option.at_leaset = 10.

4. Control on Empty bins - option.cross_num_print_missing = 1000
System verilog coverage report by default shows only the bins with samples. But usually as a verification engineer our job is to verify all cover point that are listed in verification plan.

covergroup CoverCrossNumPrintMissing ;
    ByteCnt : coverpoint tr.byte_cnt;
    Length : coverpoint tr.length;
   option.cross_num_print_missing = 1000;

5. Coverage Goal - option.goal
In system verilog, coverage goal for a cover group or point is the level at which the group or point is considered fully covered.

covergroup CoverGoal ;
    coverpoint tr.length;
    option.goal = 80;

These are the few important coverage option features which are very useful in defining/coding System Verilog Functional Coverage.

Keep Reading,
ASIC With Ankit

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Technology Product Services : "Putting Eggs On More Baskets"

Dear Readers,

We could see many semiconductor product technology services companies have been launched in last few years. Recently I read one article on EE Times India which says "Indian Startup Stats: 379 tech startups launched; 87 closed" This article describes that Indian entrepreneurs are moving ahead with their technology and business experience. Most of the companies are able to make the success in Product Services, Pure Services, Product Development in the field of Technology Products.

I was discussing these with some of the experienced and successful person in the Technology field and concluded that "Putting Eggs on more Bakets" is the safe and Smart way to get succeed and to make the sustainable business. There are many painful things when somebody is starting a company in technology product service field, like Raising an initial Fund, Quick Revenue flow, To get consumers for business etc. These are the common challenges for any new comers in the business field but analysis says that many Indian companies are able to manage these initial pains and proved themselves and came out from this phase.

Once the company comes out from initial pain and revenue starts flowing with the business expansion, second challenge for company is to improve and maintain the business review flow to make the better place in the business field. Experience and study shows that most of the company follows 'Putting Eggs on more Basket' strategy for better stability for long term future.

Putting Eggs on more Basket means expanding customer base or dealing with more customer. In this type of Business Model, In case if one of your customer failed in their business and you lost them, you wont be in serious trouble (definitely there will be impact on business but mostly those are manageable with quick management decision) because you have eggs (service business) on more Baskets (customers). So you wont be completely stuck or in trouble, your revenue flow will not get completely stopped and you can spend your effort to expand your customer base with the help of your ongoing revenue flow and mostly you can be back on track quickly. Most of the services company works on this type of business model for better stability

Ultimately most of the companies are in service directly or indirectly!

ASIC With Ankit   

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Plus args in System Verilog is Plus point !!

Dear Readers,

'Plus args in System Verilog is Plus point !!' Statement itself says that here I am going to share on some plus points and how to control Plus args in very popular design verification language called System Verilog (SV).

Plus args are command line switches supported by the simulators. Usually they are application specific. As per System Verilog LRM arguments beginning with the '+' character will be available using the $test$plusargs and $value$plusargs PLI APIs. Plus args are very useful in controlling many things on your environment like controlling your debug mode or to set a value like the debug_level in your environment, set a value to select/deselect particular field in your environment in your simulation.

What is the Syntax :
$value$plusargs (string, variable)

This is a system function searches the list of plusargs. For this system in build function, If a string is found the function returns the value 1'b1. If no strong is found matching, the function returns the value 1'b0 and the variable provided is not modified.

Let's take an example, How should we use this functions in our environment to have control.

bit erro_injection;
error_injection = 0;
if ($test$plusargs ("err"))
error_injection = 1;
$display ("Error Injection =$d", error_injection);

  if ($value$plusargs ("TESTNAME=%S", testname))
    $display ("Running test  %0s.", testname);

'Simulator Command' : +err +TESTNAME=this_test

Here in example, we could see how can we use the $test$plusargs System in build function to have control over error injection as well to select the test case name. This is just an example you can implement your own different arguments based on your application and requirement on various functionality. You can use these different arguments to pass from command line arguments like to get clock, frequency, test name, error injection information from command line.

These kind of switches are very helpful for user to control the environment without knowing the functionality. For example if user wants to run/simulate particular test case with selected frequency and clock information with debug mode enable and error injection disable, he/she just have to pass the appropriate arguments/switches from command line as we discussed in above example.

Here Engineers needs to well take care the implementation logic to give these kind of controlibility for user. He/She has to think in advance on what kind of control we can provide to user to make their life peaceful ! Once we have detailed information on what controls we need to give user, we can implement our environments to support those all switches/arguments in our environment using system in build functions.

This way we can have control over environment using plusarg feature, this is a plus point in Verilog as well as in System Verilog and because of these I would say "Plus args in these languages are Plus Point"

Keep Sharing with Ankit
ASIC With Ankit