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L. Zulberti, P. Nannipieri and L. Fanucci, "A Script-Based Cycle-True Verification Framework to Speed-Up Hardware and Software Co-Design of System-on-Chip exploiting RISC-V Architecture," International Conference on DTIS, 2021, pp. 1-6

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The complexity of heterogenous Systems-on-Chip has overgrown in the last decades, and the effort necessary to set up a verification workflow has increased as well. The time spent on the verification phase of a design takes on average 57% of the project time, and in these years, several solutions aimed to automate that task have been developed. Some relevant works in this field automate the VLSI design flow from synthesis to Place-And-Route and Layout-Vs-Schematic design check but miss software design in the automated verification loop. Our work focuses on the early stages of the design phase, where designers take software and hardware choices to explore a larger design space. In this work, we present a flexible, Make-based framework to build up verification and design environments. It aids the development of Systems-on-Chip running RISC-V processors, automating software compilation, cycle-true simulations and post-synthesis analyses. It exploits the parallelism of the Make build tool to ensure results consistency, provide flow reproducibility, and accelerate the design space exploration using different flow recipes provided by the designer. Its modular structure allows it to perform each task with various third-party tools and makes the workflow execution chain customizable. Using the proposed framework, we show how the reduced designer effort increases design productivity. Indeed, the time needed to build up a validated development environment is consistently reduced by using few configuration properties to setup all the tools used in the workflow.

Keywords: Automated workflow, co-design framework, cycle-accurate simulation, design productivity, heterogenous systems, risc-v, system-on-chip, verification.