SAN MATEO, Calif. Magma Design Automation Inc. is developing an RTL virtual prototyping tool to compliment its Blast RTL-to-GDSII IC implementation environment. When it becomes available late this year, Blast Prototype could be the industry's first RTL virtual prototyping tool, said Gary Smith, chief EDA analyst for Gartner Dataquest.
The silicon virtual prototype concept is not new, and other vendors have made strides with such a tool, but none have completed a solution, said Smith, who has advised Magma on Blast Prototype's development. The product is currently in alpha release, with beta release scheduled for June.
"It is a design cockpit for a new level of design," Smith said. "More importantly, it is the tool designers use to drive IC implementation tools."
Alok Mehrotra, director of product marketing at Magma, said: "A large percentage of a design group's resources is dedicated to converting a prototype to a floor plan. Blast Prototype allows designers to devise architectures looking at different cores, logical hierarchy and partitioning choices at the RTL or the netlist level and then create a floor plan that is correct by construction."
The tool incorporates many of the engines from Magma's other tools, including those from its synthesis, timing analysis and hierarchical design tools, Mehrotra said.
Users feed an RTL netlist to the tool, which uses gain-based synthesis and SuperCell abstracts to synthesize several million gates and generate an early silicon performance (ESP) report, Mehrotra said. The report gauges the post-layout timing feasibility of the design based on the virtual prototype placement and routing, he said.
The tool also generates a separate report that identifies problematic paths. "Using these reports, designers then create their constraints in a stepwise manner and address problems before handing off the design for implementation," said Mehrotra. "This helps save time and cut design iterations early in the flow before those problems become very hard to fix."
Users then create a detailed hierarchical floor plan with Blast Prototype and perform another round of analysis and adjustment of the floor plan to fit the design's requirements.
Blast Prototype then partitions the design into functional blocks. "The tool generates a partition list, SDC constraints and a floor plan that gets passed to their front-end designers to drive synthesis," Mehrotra said.
The tool can be used in popular third-party implementation flows, but provides the most benefit when used in a Magma Blast flow, the company said. "Users can take advantage of the fact that we have a unified tool flow as well as a unified data model," Mehrotra said.
Blast Prototype will be priced at $295,000 for a three-year time-based license.