The semiconductor industry has been driven to create chips that are more complicated and powerful as a result of the quick evolution of technology. The need for novel approaches to RTL (Register Transfer Level) design and verification in VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) increases along with the demand for smaller, quicker, and more energy-efficient integrated circuits. We'll look at the upcoming developments and trends that are influencing RTL design and verification for VLSI in this blog.
High-Level Synthesis (HLS)
The use of High-Level Synthesis (HLS) is one of the new trends in RTL design. HLS automatically generates RTL code and enables designers to define a circuit's behaviour in higher-level languages like C or C++. HLS greatly decreases design time and effort by increasing the abstraction level, allowing for quicker design exploration and design space exploration. HLS offers an effective technique to handle complex algorithms and speeds up the development process as chip designs become more complex.
Design and Verification Using Artificial Intelligence (AI)
RTL design and verification are undergoing a revolution thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) approaches. Algorithms for machine learning can help with tasks like test generation, performance prediction, power optimisation, and fault localization. AI-based methods improve the speed and efficacy of the design process. For instance, AI may find patterns and correlations in huge design datasets to reduce power usage or forecast how well a specific design configuration would function. AI can also help automate some verification processes, decreasing the need for manual labour and increasing the total coverage of the verification process.
Design at the system level
System-level design approaches are becoming more significant as chip designs get more complicated. Instead of only concentrating on individual modules, system-level design seeks to understand and optimise the requirements of the entire chip or system. This method offers early performance estimation, architectural exploration, and system-level constraint analysis. Designers can spot possible bottlenecks, boost speed, and make wise design choices by taking the system as a whole into account. The best functional separation between hardware and software components is ensured by system-level design, which also makes hardware-software co-design possible.
Co-design of Hardware and Software
Hardware/software co-design approaches are required by the integration of hardware and software components in contemporary designs. Hardware and software are developed simultaneously as part of co-design, which improves communication and collaboration between the two fields. It makes sure that capabilities are optimally partitioned, which improves system performance, power efficiency, and shortens time to market. Co-design approaches make it possible to develop software early on, co-verify hardware and software, and find and fix potential design problems early on.
Low Power Design
In VLSI design, power efficiency is a crucial consideration. Power consumption becomes a big barrier as chip complexity rises. The goal of advances in low power design techniques is to keep performance while lowering power consumption. To reduce power consumption during RTL implementation, many strategies like power gating, voltage scaling, clock gating, dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), and advanced power management techniques are employed. Designers may analyse and optimise power usage at various levels of abstraction with the aid of power-aware design and verification processes, resulting in effective power use.
Model checking and equivalence checking are two formal verification methods that are becoming more and more prevalent in RTL design and verification. In-depth proofs of correctness are provided by formal methods, and they can also spot design flaws that simulation-based methods might overlook. They provide thorough examination of intricate designs and support ensuring the robustness and reliability of VLSI architectures. Verifying essential properties and addressing design corner situations are two areas where formal verification tools excel.
Emulation and prototyping
Before production, large-scale designs must be verified and validated using emulation and prototyping platforms. Early software development, hardware-software co-verification, and performance analysis are all made possible by these platforms. RTL design validation is made possible by improvements in emulation and prototyping technologies, especially FPGA-based prototyping. Before committing to silicon, emulation and prototyping can help identify design flaws, verify functionality, and improve performance.
More advanced analysis and debugging
Debugging and analysis grow more difficult as designs become more complicated. The process of locating and resolving design flaws is sped up by advancements in debugging tools and approaches including automated debugging, real-time tracing, and assertion-based verification. These techniques improve design behaviour visibility and help identify the underlying causes of mistakes. In order to improve the overall design quality, advanced debugging approaches help in locating and fixing timing-related problems, functional faults, and performance bottlenecks.
Security and Trust
With the rise in security threats, ensuring the trustworthiness of VLSI designs is of paramount importance. Techniques like hardware security verification, side-channel attack analysis, and tamper-resistant design methodologies are gaining significance. Designers are incorporating security measures from the early stages of RTL design to mitigate vulnerabilities and protect against attacks. Emphasizing security and trust in the design and verification process is critical to safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring the integrity of VLSI designs.
Exciting trends and innovations will shape RTL design and verification for VLSI in the next years. The landscape of VLSI design is being shaped by high-level synthesis, AI, system-level design, hardware/software co-design, low power design, formal verification, emulation and prototyping, advanced debugging and analysis, security and trust, and agile and collaborative design methodologies. These developments address the difficulties brought on by the growing complexity, performance demands, power limitations, and security issues of contemporary chip architectures. Designers may increase productivity, shorten time to market, and ensure the creation of reliable and effective VLSI designs that will drive the following wave of technological developments by embracing these upcoming trends and innovations.