Introduction to High-Density Programmable Design (4/4)...


Introduction to High-Density Programmable Design
By Lee Hansen, Xilinx Software Product Marketing Manager, EEdesign
May 8, 2001 (10:02 AM)

In Review

In Parts 1 through 3 of this series on High-Density Programmable logic design, we used Xilinx High-Level Floorplanner to partition a high-density target device into manageable design modules based upon entry method, and keeping anticipated signal delays to a minimum. We then discussed design capture, both language-based and graphical capture methods. We then talked about the issues surrounding the selection and use of the rapidly growing area of Intellectual Property to fulfill design needs. We then moved on to high-density implementation: place & route, timing constraints and synthesis.

Throughout this series of articles Xilinx Modular Design has allowed us to implement each design module of the high-density device independently, we will now extend this streamlined design flow to verification. And then as each module is completed, the results will be locked in place while we wait for all modules to be completed by the other design teams. Xilinx Internet Team Design (ITD) is an optional product that can further enhance our modular design flow. ITD allows the team design flow we've been using to be driven and statused via the corporate intranet on the engineering manager's preferred internet browser. ITD optionally allows implementation and now verification to be driven from standard scripts to assure all design flow steps have been completed, and to guarantee results and repeatability.

We're now ready to wrap up this series on high-density programmable logic by launching into verification. What are the different verification options available at the different stages of module design, and once we bring the modules together into the finished device, how can we continue verification at the device level?

Checkpoint Verification

HDL simulation offers a solid verification method for the design modules. Through the flexibility of HDL simulation and integration with the implementation tools, each module can be verified at differing stages of design work; during HDL creation, and after synthesis to check design functionality, and again after place & route using back-annotated device path delays. This multi-stage verification strategy offers a “checkpoint?at each major stage of design implementation.

Xilinx ISE Foundation software includes a version of the well-known Modelsim family of HDL simulators offered from Model Technologies. Modelsim offers the speed and ease-of-use needed for high-density design simulation. ISE also supports integration for the various HDL simulators found in the majority of EDA software suites.

Testbench Generation

Test vectors must be generated for each module under design, a task that rapidly expands as designs become larger; particularly if HDL simulation is used to verify the overall device. Xilinx now offers HDL Bencher as part of the ISE design suite of software. With HDL Bencher a testbench for a design module can be quickly and easily captured early in the design process. HDL Bencher does not require the engineer to spend time generating test vectors or to be savvy at scripting, since the graphic interface supports quick extraction of a test suite at the beginner or at the expert level.

HDL Bencher enhances the checkpoint verification strategy operating as a “known-good?evaluation criteria that tracks each module during design.

Design module to chip verification

We are now at the crossroads where we're finishing module design and verification, and then moving onto design verification for the overall device. HDL Simulation is an example of a verification option that works at the module level, and can also be used for the overall device. However, High-density design requirements are driving the use of both existing and new verification strategies.

Static Timing Analysis

Static timing analysis (STA) is now well established as a chip design checkpoint, and has been considered the "sign-off" level timing verification for FPGAs for several years. Xilinx Static Timing Analysis is delivered as part of ISE and can be easily used as your final programmable device checkpoint. With the upcoming version 4.1i of ISE software, designers will also have the option of starting to use Synopsys PrimeTimeTM in their FPGA verification work.

A STAMP model can also be written out for any finished Xilinx high-density device. STAMP models let you integrate FPGA pin-to-pin delays into system level PC board tools, so the FPGA is represented during overall system level analysis.

Formal Verification

In the upcoming version 4.1i of Xilinx software, formal verification technologies from Synopsys and Verplex will be supported. Formal verification is a unique new technology brought about by the transition into ever-higher density design projects. As the gate counts of completed designs have grown; the need for test vectors has grown accordingly at a geometric rate. When considering the number of vectors that must be written and then read for a 64-bit bus converter design to ensure a thorough test of functionality, you can see that device verification becomes daunting. This has led to the growth of formal verification strategies for large-scale programmable designs.

In the “equivalence checking?version of formal verification, mathematical algorithms are used to verify the logic at each phase of the design against the pre-synthesis version. By comparing blocks of logic, equivalence checkers can compare designs in a matter of minutes, vs. hours or days using traditional gate-level simulation techniques. Whenever a new stage of the design flow has been completed, the equivalence checker can be run quickly and efficiently to verify the design is still accurate.

Verification in the system

Xilinx has created a solution that integrates verification onto the silicon itself. ChipScope Software combined with the Integrated Logic Analysis (ILA) core allows real-time access to any node in the chip, with an easy-to-use GUI interface. Designers verify chip functionality faster, without the added overhead of testhead or bed-of-nails tests and fixtures. For high-density devices, particularly in leadless packages, ChipScope ILA delivers real-time, on-chip de-bugging.

More Information

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