Verification Frameworks and System-Level Verification · Bits, Bytes, and Gates

Verification Frameworks and System-Level Verification

It seems the last decade or so has been the decade of the verification language and the verification framework. From SystemC, Vera, and 'e' to SystemVerilog, and VMM and AVM to OVM and UVM, a lot of focus has been placed on making design verification engineers productive in creating verification environments and tests. By and large, these verification language and frameworks focused on block-level and subsystem-level verification -- areas where automating application of test stimulus at the signal level was the name of the game. The world changes, however. Today, there is a growing interest in verification at the SoC and system level. At this level, where embedded software and high-level test stimulus are important, frameworks that are tied to RTL-centric language features are a bit of an impedance mismatch -- despite how relevant and valuable they are for unit and subsystem level verification.

Looking forward, the question must be raised: given the importance of verification frameworks in enabling productive, modular, and reusable verification in RTL-centric environments, might a verification framework focused on system-level verification bring the same benefits? As you might guess, I believe in the value of having a verification framework that addresses the somewhat-unique (at least as compared to those of RTL-centric environments) requirements of system-level environments.

Now, just because there might be value in a different verification framework focused on the needs of system-level verification doesn't mean that we have to start from scratch in designing this framework. The experiences from the past decade in terms of general requirements for and useful attributes of a verification framework are invaluable in informing the core elements of a new system-level verification framework.

So, the past informs the future even as the environment and requirements change. Over the course of the next few blog posts, I'll outline more details on key attributes of a system-level verification framework.

Are you doing verification at the system level? If so, what verification framework are you using?