Mentor, a Siemens business, which pioneered portable stimulus technology in 2004, announced it will fully support the new Accellera Portable Test and Stimulus Standard 1.0 in the upcoming release of its Questa® inFact™ tool. The Accellera standard, which is based on Questa inFact technology that Mentor donated to Accellera in 2014, will rapidly drive portable stimulus into broader, mainstream use and help IC engineers more efficiently collaborate and deliver innovation to markets such as artificial intelligence, 5G wireless communication and autonomous driving.
At its core, the new Accellera portable stimulus standard (PSS) enables engineers to re-use a single set of portable stimulus specifications across multiple verification engines to achieve different objectives at various stages of the development process. Mentor’s Questa inFact tool is the industry’s most comprehensive solution, supporting design, verification, validation and test. It leverages machine learning and data mining techniques that have yielded up to a 40X increase in productivity across multiple phases of customer IC development. The Questa InFact tool leverages portable stimulus technology, enabling designers to complete advanced performance and power analysis at the IC level, verification engineers to achieve higher levels of coverage in less time, validation engineers to fully integrate hardware and software, and test engineers to analyze and optimize their regression test environments.
“When Mentor donated the Questa inFact tool’s language and initiated the original Accellera Portable Test and Stimulus Working Group in 2014, we did so to drive portable stimulus toward mainstream use and help more design teams realize the step-function gains in verification productivity afforded by our Questa inFact tool,” said Mark Olen, product marketing group manager for the Mentor IC Verification Solutions Division. “As we’ve collaborated with Accellera’s PSS working group to drive the specification to this standard over the last four years, we’ve also been diligently refining Questa inFact to comply with the portable specification as it has evolved. We have additionally added the latest machine learning and data mining technologies to expand the Questa inFact tool’s use for the design, validation and regression test phases of the IC development process.”
Customers use the Questa inFact tool to generate UVM SystemVerilog test scenarios to achieve functional coverage at the IP block level with the Questa simulator, and then re-use the test scenarios to generate C/C++ tests for traffic generation at IC level verification with the Veloce® emulator. Customers also use the Questa inFact tool to generate assembly code at the system level for instruction-set verification. In addition, the tool can generate C/C++ scenarios for architectural exploration with the Vista™ virtual prototyping system. Lastly, customers use the Questa inFact tool in concert with Mentor’s Catapult® High-Level Synthesis toolset by generating C/C++ scenarios before, and RTL tests after, behavioral synthesis.
Mentor has applied classification machine learning to its graph-based Questa inFact technology to enable the actual targeting of scenarios not yet verified. This enables much faster achievement of coverage goals at the IP block level, and increased usefulness of bare metal testing at the IC level. Mentor’s Questa inFact tool learns from each subsequent scenario during simulation or emulation -- the longer it runs, the smarter it gets.
Mentor has also applied data mining technology to extend the application of portable stimulus beyond verification. The Questa inFact tool can collect and correlate transaction-level activity to characterize IC design performance parameters including fabric routing efficiency and bandwidth, system-level latency, cache coherency, arbitration efficiency, out-of-order execution, and even opcode performance. It can also analyze and optimize regression test environments, eliminating costly and redundant simulation and emulation cycles.
“We have been using early versions of this standard in Mentor’s Questa inFact tool for many years to help customers leverage PSS to achieve their design goals,” said Srini Venkataramanan, chief technology officer for Contemporary Verification Consultants, Ltd. (CVC). “With the new Accellera standard in place, we believe adoption will accelerate and we will be able to help customers achieve even greater success."