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Functional Verification of Programmable Embedded Architectures: A Top-Down Approach

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It is widely acknowledged that the cost of validation and testing comprises a significant
percentage of the overall development costs for electronic systems today,
and is expected to escalate sharply in the future. Many studies have shown that
up to 70% of the design development time and resources are spent on functional
verification. Functional errors manifest themselves very early in the design flow,
and unless they are detected up front, they can result in severe consequences -
both financially and from a safety viewpoint. Indeed, several recent instances of
high-profile functional errors (e.g., the Pentium FDIV bug) have resulted in increased
attention paid to verifying the functional correctness of designs. Recent
efforts have proposed augmenting the traditional RTL simulation-based validation
methodology with formal techniques in an attempt to uncover hard-to-find corner
cases, with the goal of trying to reach RTL functional verification closure.
However, what is often not highlighted is the fact that in spite of the tremendous
time and effort put into such efforts at the RTL and lower levels of abstraction,
the complexity of contemporary embedded systems makes it difficult to guarantee
functional correctness at the system level under all possible operational scenarios.

In this book we present a top-down validation methodology for programmable
embedded architectures that complements the existing bottom-up approaches. Our
methodology leverages the system architect's knowledge about the behavior of the
design through an architecture specification that serves as the initial golden reference
model. Of course, the model itself should be validated to ensure that it
conforms to the architect's intended behavior; we present validation techniques to
ensure that the static and dynamic behaviors of the specified architecture are well
formed. The validated specification is then used as a golden reference model for
the ensuing phases of the design.
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