Sunday, April 6, 2014

UVM : Just do it OR Do it right!

No, the title is not a comparison of captions but a gist of the discussions at UVM 1.2 day – a conference hosted by CVC Bangalore celebrating their decade long journey. The day started with keynote from Vinay Shenoy, MD Infineon Technologies India where he discussed the evolution of Indian industry in the last 30+ years and why India is a role model for services but lags in manufacturing. He also shared some rich insights into the Indian govt initiatives to bridge this gap. Vikas Gautam, Senior Director, Verification Group, Synopsys delivered the next keynote raising a question on the current state of verification and what next after UVM? Later in the day, Anil Gupta, MD Applied Micro India in his keynote discussed the growth of semiconductor industry emphasizing the need for value creation and expectations from the verification team adopting UVM. Pradeep captured the summary of these keynotes here – Vinay, Vikas and Anil. Further to this, Dennis Brophy, Director of strategic business development, Mentor & Vice Chairman, Accellera unleashed UVM1.2 inviting engineers to participate in the open review before final release.

Begin with an end in mind

While the phenomenal adoption rate of UVM has alleviated obvious worries, applying it effectively to address verification at various levels is still challenging. Deploying UVM in absence of proper planning and a systematic approach is a perfect recipe towards schedule abuse. This point was beautifully comprehended by Anil Gupta referring to carpentry as a profession. UVM is a toolset similar to hammer, chisel, lathe etc. found with every carpenter. Successful accomplishment of the work depends upon a focussed effort towards the end goal. If a carpenter is building a leg of a chair, he needs to concentrate on the leg in the context of that specific chair. This ensures that when the chair is finally assembled it comes into shape instantly. Ignoring this would otherwise lead to rework i.e. delay in schedule while affecting the stability and longevity of the chair. Similarly, while developing a UVM based environment, it is critical for the verification engineer to define and build it at block level such that it integrates at the sub system or SoC level seamlessly.

My 2 cents

Verification today demands a disciplined approach for marching towards the end goal. To start with, the verification architecture document at block level needs to address the reuse aspect of UVM components. Next is definition of sequence item and config DBs, avoiding glue logic while knitting components at block level and extending clear APIs to enable effective reuse. Performance of the SoC test bench depends on the slowest component integrated. Memory and CPU cycles consumed by entities need to be profiled, analyzed and corrected at block level to weed out such bottlenecks. It is crucial to involve block level owners to understand, discuss and debate the potential pitfalls when aiming to verify a SoC that is nothing less than a beast. Breaking the end goal into milestones that can be addressed at block level would ensure verification cycles at SoC level are utilized efficiently. Early start on test bench integration for subsystem/SoC level to enable flushing the flow and providing feedback to block owners would be an added advantage. 

Following is a 5 point rating scale for measuring overall verification approach effectiveness particularly at IP level –

Remember to revisit this scale frequently while developing the leg of the chair.... I mean any UVM based entity that is scheduled for reuse further.... :)

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  1. From - Jonathan Zingman
    Source - System Verilog user group - Linkedin
    This is a good point, especially the table at the end. I see a lot of UVM-ish code - lines have "uvm" in them, but modularity and reusability are not emphasized. Effective hierarchies are not developed, leading to spaghetti UVM (the worst of both worlds!)

    Better training and more experience in object-oriented development would help a lot. Making sure that everyone understands that there is no such thing as one-off code (always write for reuse) also is useful.

    Unfortunately, most folks who bother to read this probably understand the issue already.

  2. Jonathan,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Yes, today while we have a fantastic platform in form of UVM with a high adoption rate, the mode of adoption is not the best one leading to long time spent in integrating, debugging & worse simulating the code itself.

    I do see some young readers raising their doubts on a direct mailer in regards to this post. That definitely is encouraging for all of us.