A: Chips that use floating-point arithmetic, such as CPUs, GPUs, and AI hardware, process millions of highly precise calculations. They require complex datapaths to perform this mathematical analysis. However, corner-case bugs in the datapath can go undetected and, thus, lead to system failures. Calculating the trajectory of a rocket, for example, needs to be very precise. A subtle bug in a floating-point unit (FPU) could potentially cause the rocket to crash. The process of datapath validation identifies those bugs.
Traditional verification methods based on simulation, for instance, are inefficient, time-consuming, and simply impractical for exhaustively verifying these complex mathematical functions. Formal verification—which uses mathematical methods to prove or disprove the correctness of intended algorithms—provides an effective, efficient, and tractable solution.