New automated gate-level waveform generation methodology
The new methodology developed jointly by CSR and SpringSoft:
- Generates accurate gate-level waveforms automatically;
design teams to correlate and analyze results in the RTL environment,
eliminating the necessity to bring up the gate-level environment;
- Eliminates the necessity to simulate from time zero for every power analysis run; and
- Imposes no changes on the established power estimation methodology and tool flow.
combines Springsoft’s established Siloti Visibility Automation System
with CSR-generated map files that use CSR scripts on regular synthesis
and place and route tools. Like some emulation and FPGA design tools,
the visibility automation system can extract full waveforms from
essential signal waveforms (flip-flops and input). In addition, it maps
every gate-level flip-flop to the original flip-flop in the RTL. The
combination of these features is used to extract the essential signals
from the RTL. The result is a gate-level waveform that is identical (or
almost identical) to the GTL waveform derived from GTL simulation. Thus,
it can be used to derive the toggle rate of every port of every cell in
the netlist — precisely the data needed for accurate power estimation.
ability to automatically generate port activity data significantly
reduces both the time and the effort to generate the gate-level
waveforms, and eliminates the need to bring up the gate-level testbench
environment. After waveform generation, power consumption is analyzed
using CSR’s established power estimation flow — the new methodology
requires no changes to it.
Using the new methodology, gate-level
waveforms can be generated for every relevant scope and time interval,
eliminating the need to run simulation from time zero. It can also be
applied in verification runs where internal testbench stubs are used to
drive the design, for example a CPU stub instead of the CPU RTL.
Visibility automation technology
The new methodology employs two main tool features — “What-if Replay” and “Correlation” — to re-run gate-level simulation with RTL simulation waveforms as the input stimuli.
re-simulates the user-specified design block with the
previously-generated waveform database as the input stimulus. The user
can also specify the time window for the simulation.
maps the signals from the RTL to the gate level and vice versa. For
power analysis, this technology is used to map the RTL signal waveform
to the gate-level signals in order to drive the re-simulation.
waveform database — known as the Fast Signal Database (FSDB) — is an
open component in SpringSoft’s Verdi Automated Debug System, and is
supported by many third-party tools.
Just as the new methodology
requires no changes to CSR’s power estimation methodology, so the
visibility automation technology requires no changes to CSR’s tool flow.
The flow continues to use physical design tools such as Synopsys’
Design Compiler, IC Compiler, and PrimeTime PX, while simulation
continues to use tools such as the Cadence Incisive Unified Simulator.
The visibility automation tool inputs, mapping file generation and execution flow are as follows:
The tool uses the following input data in order to generate gate-level waveforms (see also figure 1):
- RTL FSDB with waveforms from RTL simulation, including the scope that must be regenerated.
to RTL mapping file that points from every essential gate-level signal
to the corresponding RTL signal in the RTL FSDB. The user can also map
the signal to constant values to tie it to a fixed value during the
- Gate-level file list containing the commands for
compiling the gate-level netlist (minus any testbench). The file can
also include “defines” and any other compilation flags.
- Configuration file that specifies the user settings for the What-If Replay run. Key parameters include:
- The gate-level design scope on which the simulation is executed and from which the gate-level waveform is generated
- The time scope with start and end times of the gate-level waveforms
- The simulation compile script with simulation compile settings
- The simulation run script with simulation run settings
- The SDF file with the path to be used, if any
Figure 1: Tool inputs and flow
Mapping file generation
The mapping file generation tool — developed by CSR — contains both flip-flop mapping and input mapping.
mapping can be derived from the output of an equivalence checking tool
or that of the synthesis/place and route tool. For example, in Synopsys
Design Compiler, the saif_map command generates an output file which
contains all of the flip-flop mappings.
Input mapping at the gate level is simple when gate-level hierarchies are maintained. When
they are not maintained, it is necessary to map the inputs at the top
level of the hierarchy, which are maintained just like the top level of a
physical design macro. In this case, it is sufficient to map the
clocks, design-for-test (DFT) signals such as built-in self-test (BIST),
and scan, as well as specific control signals. This mapping drives all
of the appropriate clock and control inputs to the desired scope. It
also loses some data at the interfaces, such as output from memories
until the first sample, and toggling information from the input to the
first sampling flop. However, this loss has a negligible effect on the
total power estimation.
- The execution flow has three stages: extract, compile and simulate.
- In the extract phase, the tool uses the input files and user settings to generate two main components:
design-under-test (DUT) source files by performing design extraction
for the selected scope. This is the DUT for the re-simulation.
New testbench files which use the RTL simulation result (FSDB) as input stimulus to drive the extracted DUT in re-simulation.
design is then ready for compilation and re-simulation. The tool
automatically drives the compilation and then launches the simulation
task. Using common simulation tools such as Synopsys VCS and Cadence
Incisive Unified Simulator (IUS), simulation of the design compiled in
the compile phase generates the waveform.
After generation of the
gate-level waveform within the scope and time range of interest, it can
be processed by any popular power estimation tool. If a given power
estimation tool cannot accept FSDB directly as the input, there are
utilities that can convert FSDB outputs to other formats such as VCD and
SAIF files, which can be used in any power estimation tool.