A Visit With Blue Pearl Software

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Blue Pearl Software, one of the emerging EDA companies in Silicon Valley. Blue Pearl Software was started six years ago with the goal of doing design analysis at the functional level and providing designers with control of their design from RTL through synthesis. Another goal as important as the first was to automatically generate timing constraints and allow the verification of their correctness.

Ellis Smith, the company CEO told me that both goals have been achieved and that their products, Analyze RTL and Create are the easiest tools to use in the industry. The user interface is so intuitive that any designers can be proficient with the tools from the very beginning. The tools use proprietary technologies that include RTL analysis, high level symbolic simulation, and state space exploration.

For example, Ellis continued, one can click on any generated false path and immediately see the entire path from its origin to its final destination and validate it. This of course saves significant time in the design process. We all know that time is money.

Analyze RTL combines both linting and formal verification technology to give a comprehensive static design checking solution. The tool offers both a Schematic Viewer and a Clock Domain Crossing Viewer. They consist of three dockable sub-windows within the main schematic window. The Clock Domain Crossing Viewer window shows a color coded view of the selected path, while the Schematic Viewer includes a hierarchical design browser that lets an engineer easily navigate through the design.

Shakeel Jeeawoody, Director of Product Marketing, told me that Blue Pearl supports design using multiple clocks. Formal clock domain boundary checking ensures that data crossing clock domain boundaries is synchronized. The tool automatically recognizes a number of common synchronization methods like double register buffering, FIFO based synchronization, and multiplexed control based synchronization. It also supports custom schemes by allowing the designer to specify the allowed synchronization cells.

The product also identifies data that is generated and consumed by different edges of the same clock and checks for the appropriate use of lock-up latches.

During the demo I saw that Blue Pearl allows designers to check that the RTL description complies with design for testability (DFT) rules. Since the tool understands the ATPG process, a user can perform scan-path integrity.

In short the Create product analyses the RTL description, identifies clock domains, extracts both false paths and multi-cycle paths, and generates SDC timing constraints and assertions.

Those who know me and have read my writings remember that I have said more than once that demos are engineered to show the best parts of the product, and thus one cannot make a final judgment from a demo. But I have to say that Blue Pearl Software's approach and technology to shorten the development time is robust and deserving of investigation. As almost all emerging EDA companies, Blue Pearl concentrates on engineering investment and thus does not have a major voice in marketing. I asked Shakeel to give me his elevator speech.

"Our suite of tools automatically checks HDL descriptions for compliance with user-selected and user-defined properties, including netlist checks and advanced property checks for CDC. We generate and manage timing constraints from RTL by statically identifying complex false and multi-cycle paths that occur due to complex control logic.

Our visual timing constraints verification provides an internal audit trail that shows the schematic representation of the false path and explains the logical conflict at the source of the path. Combined with automatically generated assertions we believe this provides a method that engineers can trust and use to save development time and increase reliability."

Just like with real pearls, one must look inside the shell to find the gem.

Article by Gabe Moretti

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