New Agile Engineering Program Launched on AgileAlliance.org

This is a special announcement to let people know that Agile Alliance has launched a new Agile Engineering Program. The purpose of the program is to help consolidate and grow the community of people that are applying agile practices in engineering by providing a platform for sharing short experience reports on why and how they’ve applied agile. In short, it’s a way for us to help each other out.

The Agile Engineering Program is being lead by Nancy van Schooenderwoert with me side-kick. Nancy and I are happy to have Agile Alliance explore the potential for agile development beyond software development… very happy :).

You can find more information about the program on AgileAlliance.org.

Thank you Agile Alliance!

-neil

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Agile2014 Demo – Mocking Device Drivers with GoogleMock

This week, our Agile2014 SW/HW co-development demo took a step closer to the hardware. But considering the real hardware isn’t going to be here for another month or so, we had to get creative to test the code that interacts with the device drivers.

Mocking is a technique I’m starting to get comfortable with to isolate and test specific functions. I’m also getting more comfortable with GoogleMock. It’s only taken 3 weeks, not that I’m an expert or anything, but the basics are pretty straightforward. However, while the basics apply very well to C++ code, they don’t apply as well to C code. Here’s a “warning” on the GoogleMock FAQ to explain… Continue reading

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Our AgileSoC.com To-do list

From time to time I have people asking me how they can help out with the various activities and developments we talk about on AgileSoC.com. It’s not everyday, but it’s often enough that I thought it would be useful to publish a consolidated list of what’s currently on the go to see if anyone is hip to pitching in. When I say anyone, I really mean anyone. There are no agile hardware experts that I know of which means we’re all equally qualified. You could be working now in ASIC/FPGA development, taking a break, studying at university or whatever. If you got the interest with a few hours to spare, you can help.


Projects Currently Under Development

SVUnit

Get the latest version of SVUnit from Sourceforge

SVUnit is our most popular SystemVerilog unit test framework. The framework itself is reasonably solid but there’s always opportunities to publish add-ons or examples. If you have an example of how you’ve used SVUnit to solve a problem that you can share with the community, EDAPlayground.com is probably the best place to do that. If you’ve got add-ons to the framework that you think belong in the release package, please contact me, tell me what you have and we can discuss how to get it in there. Feature requests are best entered as a ticket on sourceforge.

MiniTB

Get the latest version of MiniTB from Github

Our second most popular SystemVerilog unit test framework (aka: the other framework) is MiniTB. Similar to SVUnit, it’s reasonably solid on it’s own but more so than SVUnit, it could use some examples. Since it’s geared more toward RTL testing, we could really use some examples of how different RTL modules are being smoke-tested. Likewise, we could use some interface IP (I already have some AMBA BFMs packaged with MiniTB but they could use some company). If you’ve got anything or are motivated to put something together, let me know and we’ll see if we can get something into the release package.

UVM-UTest

I tend to forget about UVM-UTest as an option for further development even though it’s probably the project with the most direct link to what’s going on in the EDA industry. UVM-UTest is our project where we unit test components of the UVM library. Seeing as how UVM is so huge and UVM-UTest covers only a small subset so far, there’s a never ending opportunity here to grow the unit test suite, continuing to verify what is a very important and relevant industry framework. Check out the getting started page to see what we’ve done so far. If you want to dive in, I can show you the ropes and help you get started verify a new piece of the UVM.

Agile2014 HW/SW Co-dev Platform

Our Agile2014 Co-dev platform is being actively developed as we speak. I’m quite excited about this project because unlike almost my entire career, it involves hardware that you can actually see and touch and use. For our Agile2014 Co-dev platform, I think a neat opportunity exists for one or more people to build a module that does some basic graphics processing. Ideally, we’d like something that shows how we can use logic on the FPGA to transform software generated video frames. Complexity doesn’t really matter. We’re just trying to impress a bunch of software developers so pretty much anything will do :). This will probably entail inserting a block into a pipeline that uses AMBA AXI4-Stream protocol for the I/O with some basic stuff in between. If it sounds good to you, let me know.


Other Possibilities

Experience Reports

If you want to help the Agile Hardware community, likely the best way is to set a good example, then publish it (the most common Agile Hardware email I get is: “do you have any examples of agile being applied to _fill_in_the_blank_?”). I’ve posted guest posts on AgileSoC.com before and would be happy to do so again… even from people that criticize the very idea of agile in hardware development. I don’t discriminate :) . Lessons learned, new techniques, anything that others can learn from is good with me.

SVUnit/MiniTB Compatible Mocking Libraries

This would be an interesting way for people to strike off on their own. Mocking is a useful technique for unit testing and TDD. I’ve recently seen first hand how useful a mocking utility/framework can be. Seeing Cadence add a mocking utility to Specman should be enough to convince people it’s not an entirely crazy idea. If you’re new to mocking, you can check out CMock or GoogleMock for two examples from C/C++. If the idea tickles your fancy, you could think about building a SystemVerilog version. That’d be a super idea.

SVUnit Support for OVM

This has come up a few times… there are teams still using OVM and are looking for a framework that supports development and test of OVM components. I’ve talked to people that have tried using SVUnit with OVM so it is possible. It’d just be a matter of packaging an add-on similar to what I’ve done with UVM to make it easy for people to use. Add VMM to the list for that matter. Support for either would be a decent idea.


That’s most of what I can think of. You can get me at neil.johnson@agilesoc.com if any of it is worth talking about. If you have any other ideas, maybe you’re looking for feedback or someone to help you out, feel free to get a hold of me.

-neil

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Honey… I’m Being Eaten By A Bear: 10 Need to Know Tips

Last week I stumbled across a verification post that used my favorite verification graphic from the Wilson Research Group Functional Verification Survey that Mentor sponsors every few years. Here it is again for anyone that hasn’t seen it posted here before (I’m sure this makes about a half-dozen times for me. It is, after all, my favorite verification graphic)… Continue reading

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Agile2014 Demo – Weeks 2 and 3

Now is probably the right time to start talking about the board we’re using for our agile SW/HW co-development demo… or I should say hope to be using considering it’s currently on backorder (we’re expecting a mid-June delivery).

It’s called a Zedboard (we borrowed the picture from zedboard.org). Like most development kits, it’s got a lot of stuff on it, much of which we won’t be touching at all. What we definitely will be using is the Xilinx Zynq programmable SoC in the middle. It’s the small’ish Z-7020 device with an ARM dual-core Cortex-A9. The other important part for us is the HDMI connector. The plan of record is to run our Conway’s Game of Life application on the A9 while the visuals are sent to a monitor via the HDMI.

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Agile2014 Demo – Week 1

Today will be 3 weeks of development on our Agile SW/HW Co-development demo. This is a recap of week 1. Week 2 to follow and then we’re all caught up!

We’ve decided on an application. We wanted something simple, visual, fun and familiar so that people at the Agile2014 conference would feel comfortable sitting down and giving it a try. To that end, we figured Conway’s Game of Life would fit the bill. If you’re not familiar with Conway’s Game of Life, here’s a screenshot from the opening of its wikipedia pageContinue reading

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Agile SW/HW Co-development at Agile2014

So 2014 is only a few months old and already it’s been pretty interesting for me. Since January, I’ve had 3 major agile hardware opportunities fall into my lap. Those 3 opportunities have somehow turned into another opportunity that I’m quite excited about. More about that in a minute. First, a quick recap… Continue reading

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SVUnit Adds Support For Aldec Riviera-PRO

Get the latest version of SVUnit from Sourceforge

Here’s something to get Aldec users excited: SVUnit now supports Riviera-PRO. That means it’s no longer just Mentor Graphics, Cadence and Synopsys users that have the option of unit testing high quality Systemverilog RTL and testbench code, Aldec users can now join in the fun!

For Riviera-PRO support, you’ll want v2.8 from sourceforge. Fastest way to download it is to hit the big blue button to the right. From there, I’d follow the instructions in the README to start building your own short demo. That should take about 10min (if it takes longer than that, it’s probably my fault… not yours… so feel free to send me a nastygram with any troubles you’re having). Perusing the examples directory is a good second step. The designs in there should work just as they do with any of the other simulators. For further instructions, you can take a look at the SVUnit page or search for past blog posts tagged with SVUnit. Continue reading

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Yes… This is an AgileSoC Shirt

photo 2So I’ve been waiting for about 5 years now for someone to turn our AgileSoC logo into a shirt and send it to me without me asking. 5 Years!

Ok… not entirely true. I haven’t been waiting for an AgileSoC shirt but much to my surprise, it’s happened anyway! Thanks to Matt Plavcan devoting his spare time to something fully and completely awesome, I have a new AgileSoC shirt.

Super. Duper!

Officially… in case it’s not obvious… this is my new favorite shirt. Besides the shirt, Matt also sent me a few DIY iron-ons with various logo configurations. All that for the low, low price of 2 beers.

No solid plans for more shirts yet though it would be awfully selfish of me to keep them for myself. I’m thinking I might pay this forward to some agile hardware developer that does something special for the community. So go do something good… and keep an eye on your mailbox. Someone sending me an AgileSoC shirt totally out of the blue means pretty much anything can happen :).

-neil

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SNUG Unit Testing Finale

2014-03-24 14.53.48SNUG Silicon Valley is all wrapped up for another year. I think my talk on tuesday morning went pretty well. Finding the right angle for introducing agile hardware practices has been a real trick for me and this week I felt I took a step forward. For technical practices, TDD is still my goal. For the hardware crowd it seems my UVM-UTest talk focusing on unit testing could be the right path for getting there.

(If you weren’t at SNUG and you have a group that’d be interested in How UVM Makes The Case For Unit Testing, let me know at neil.johnson@agilesoc.com. I’m always happy to repeat past presentations in person or via webex!) Continue reading

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