But rather than sketch a dark and gloomy future for IC design, Alben
offered seven tips for improving the situation:
- Promote defend your productivity mentality
- Define a long-term direction
- Pick the most important near-term investment(s)
- Ensure every project does something to improve your company's
- Explicitly allocate budget for methodology staffing
- Involve the product engineers
- Keep the lights on by maintaining your old flow while rolling
out a new tool flow rather than suddenly cut over.
In addition to trying to adhere to these rules, Alben said Nvidia
has had a two-year collaboration with Synopsys and the EDA giant's
VCS tool in which they push the enabling GPU simulation within
In other words, they "take the design under test (DUT) and move
that whole simulation over to the GPU, leaving only the test bench
simulation side on the CPU side," Alben said.
The technology is a prototype, "but it's gotten to the point
where we have everything we need to run our unit RTL verification
environments," he said.
Nvidia runs a simulation farm that has NVidia Tesla K10
accelerator cards installed in them, each running two DUTs. It
claims that approach speeds simulation by 5 times, he said.
Nvidia also is collaborating with Rocketick on ATPG
gate simulations. Rocketick's RocketSim software offloads
calculations to a GPU to shrink verification time. Alben said
Nvidia is seeing "extremely high speed up on K10 cards of 17.1x."
In one case, a gate simulation shrank from 20 days to 16 hours, he
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