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Mentor brings emulation beyond functional testing

Posted: 29 May 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mentor Graphics  emulation  functional test  EDA 

Mentor Graphics has brought to market its Veloce Power Application software that claims to push the boundaries of emulation of large SoCs beyond the typical sets of functional tests. According to the company, the latest solution enables designers to identify power peaks at gate-level while running live applications on their emulated designs.

Typically for power measurement, chip designers only run simulations of functional tests at the block or subsystem level, generating switching activity in the form of Switching Activity Interchange Format (SAIF), Fast Signal Database (FSDB) or Value Change Dump (VCD) for a limited number ranging from tens to thousands of cycles. Power analysis tools do the rest and the power numbers are then extrapolated to get a power number for the full SoC.

But this approach was no longer enough for fabless chip vendor Qualcomm whose feedback to Mentor Graphics last year initiated new software developments around the company's Veloce2 emulation platform.

The EDA company who claims a double digit growth for its Emulation Division has replaced its FSDB-based power analysis flow, deemed unpractical for long emulation runs, with a Dynamic Read Waveform API integration to power analysis tools.

This Dynamic Read Waveform API approach captures the information from the power switching activity plot and transfers that data to power analysis tools, enabling accurate power calculation at the system level, better power exploration at RTL for power budgeting and trade-offs as well as more accurate power analysis and sign-off at the gate level.

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With this approach, Mentor said its customers can now measure power in a targeted application environment while running actual software applications, from booting an OS to running hundreds of millions of cycles of real applications.

This means chip companies can now identify power issues that would only occur in real application environments and that may not be spotted during benchmarking tests.

The new flow is also said to offer a significant boost in the emulator's runtime performance, up to 4.5X according to partners who had early access to the new tool.

"It took us about a year to develop the Veloce Power Application software," said Eric Selosse, VP & GM of Mentor Graphics' emulation division, "and I believe that for differentiation, the trend in emulation will be to have more and more software applications tied to the hardware," he added, referring to Mentor's VirtuaLAB launched in 2013.

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