The competitive players in the EDA industry have expertise in digital design solutions, verifying digital processors and other complex IP in a system. Verification of digital designs is at a much faster speed than analog because there are more verification techniques available, such as emulation, for instance. The application of emulation to analog designs significantly increases verification performance of systems containing both analog and digital content.
Because most systems today use very complex components that are diverse and go beyond the world of digital and into analog, many industry-standard verification solutions won’t support these AMS designs. By enabling the Synopsys ZeBu® emulation and prototyping system to process not only digital circuits but also analog ones, we are the first to create technology that can emulate and verify complex AMS designs, pre-silicon—a major breakthrough.
Here is how we did it:
We started off with an established open-source modeling language called Real Number Modeling (RNM), supporting floating-point signal values and other constructs used in analog design. With this language, you can write a description of what the analog components in your design can do. Because our emulator can support that language—it reads and understands the constructs—it can verify your design with the digital logic and with the software altogether. We call this AMS emulation. It takes our current industry-leading emulation technology and adds on a new RNM capability, incorporating a different analog circuit domain.
In the past, verification was a black box in terms of the analog components in your SoC. Analog circuit behavior previously couldn’t be modelled in emulation; it had to be replaced by a simplified model that didn’t represent its operation with a high degree of fidelity, so there was a chance of error in the final design. The new technology enables a more accurate model, resulting in complete system verification before committing the design to silicon.
Our POSH industry partners used the technology in their multi-die designs, validating everything prior to manufacturing. Before this technology, you would have to either wait for silicon to find the bugs or uncover them in a marginal way through simulations that would increase your timeline substantively, so much so that for the most part, this type of simulation was not done. That is why developing AMS systems have traditionally suffered from much higher risk and greater potential for re-spins. Before AMS emulation, the software, analog circuits, and digital system content were largely verified independently. There wasn’t a practical method to validate that all these design components operated correctly together pre-silicon as they should in-silicon. Thus, bugs were found post-silicon. The benefit of AMS emulation is debug and validation of the entire system: AMS, digital, and software, before commitment to silicon, avoiding detection of anomalies in device validation, characterization, or the field.