Small companies, big breakthroughs
By Clive Maxfield
June 19th,2002

In one of my favorite films of all time -- Blade Runner -- Roy the replicant (artificial human) says, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe." I just returned from DAC 2002 in New Orleans, and I know how Roy felt, because I saw things that even I didn't believe!

One of the things that had my head spinning was the morass of design languages, and how folks think they are all going to play together. These include SystemC, Verilog 2001, System Verilog, and Superlog, and don't get me started on the plethora of property/assertion languages that are now roaming wild and free. I'm still mulling all of this over in what used to pass for my mind, and am planning on making it the topic of a future column. In the meantime, I'd like to introduce just a few of the companies and products that caught my eye.

Summit is back
Way back in the mists of time when I was still a young man, I was working for Intergraph Electronics (which eventually became VeriBest before being acquired by Mentor a couple of years ago). Anyway, in 1990 Intergraph Electronics acquired Dazix (itself the result of the merger between Daisy and Cadnetix), which included a cutting-edge development team in Israel.

That team eventually went on to form a company called Summit Design. Some time later Summit merged with Viewlogic to become Innoveda. In April 2002, Summit emerged from Innoveda as an independent company once more, while the rest of Innoveda was acquired by Mentor.

Of course, I bounced over to the Summit booth to see a few old friends, and stayed for a demo of their latest system simulation offering, which is called Visual Elite. Things have certainly moved on from the old days, when the ability to co-simulate Verilog and VHDL was considered to be pretty exciting. Visual Elite allows you to freely mix System C, C/C++, Verilog, and VHDL, to simulate them all together, and to display the results -- signals and abstract data -- in a common waveform viewer.

You can of course code everything by hand, but you can also save yourself a lot of pain by using their graphical block-level capture system. This allows you to partition the design into blocks and specify the language associated with each block. You can then push into a block to capture its contents using the text editor of your choice. The advantage of using this graphical approach at the highest level is that all of the inter-block communication and simulation tasks are handled behind the scenes, transparent to the user.

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