Functional verification

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In electronic design automation, functional verification is the task of verifying that the logic design conforms to specification. In everyday terms, functional verification attempts to answer the question "Does this proposed design do what is intended?" This is a complex task, and takes the majority of time and effort in most large electronic system design projects. Functional verification is a part of more encompassing design verification, which, besides functional verification, considers non-functional aspects like timing, layout and power.

Functional verification is very difficult because of the sheer volume of possible testcases that exist in even a simple design. Frequently there are more than 10^80 possible tests to comprehensively verify a design – a number that is impossible to achieve in a lifetime. This effort is equivalent to program verification, and is NP-hard or even worse – and no solution has been found that works well in all cases. However, it can be attacked by many methods. None of them are perfect, but each can be helpful in certain circumstances:

Simulation based verification (also called 'dynamic verification') is widely used to "simulate" the design, since this method scales up very easily. Stimulus is provided to exercise each line in the HDL code. A test-bench is built to functionally verify the design by providing meaningful scenarios to check that given certain input, the design performs to specification.

A simulation environment is typically composed of several types of components:

Different coverage metrics are defined to assess that the design has been adequately exercised. These include functional coverage (has every functionality of the design been exercised?), statement coverage (has each line of HDL been exercised?), and branch coverage (has each direction of every branch been exercised?).

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