Test Your Test Programs Pre-Silicon: A Virtual Test Methodology for Industrial Design Flows
Sprache des Titels:
Computer Society Annual Symposium on VLSI (ISVLSI)
The ever increasing complexity of modern circuits and systems remains a big challenge for the semiconductor industry. Since the life cycle of new products is getting smaller and smaller, companies have to speed-up their design flows to stay competitive. This particularly holds for the efforts spent to verify and test a chip. Here, the development of proper test programs to be executed on the fabricated chip constitutes a serious bottleneck. This is because the first application of the test program on actual silicon frequently unveils errors that need to be addressed ? causing debugging loops and a threat to time-to-market objectives. Consequently, it is tried to conduct these tests earlier in the design flow, i.e. before first silicon is available. In this work, we propose a corresponding virtual test methodology which allows to test a test program on a virtual representation of the chip (e.g. a SystemC description which is available early in the design process anyway). In contrast to previously proposed solutions, our methodology can be integrated in a generic and black-box fashion into existing flows, i.e. the user does not need to know whether the test program is executed on actual silicon or its virtual description. A case study within an industrial environment confirms the benefits of the proposed methodology.