March 2-5, 2020

DoubleTree Hotel, San Jose, CA

MP Associates, Inc.

THURSDAY March 05, 1:00pm - 2:30pm | Donner

HSI Issues – Fake News or Not? How Hardware/Software Interface Impacts Tape-Outs

Gary Stringham - Gary Stringham & Assoc., LLC
Rich Weber - Semifore, Inc.
Jamsheed Agahi - Semifore, Inc.
Josh Rensch - Semifore, Inc.

We all want to have successful tape-outs. But tape-outs are not the end of the tale. The first delivery to the customer is. There are many steps in-between the initial architecture and that delivery, just as there are many different stakeholders for our developments. From the architecture team to the software team, from the design team to management. This requires a lot of communication. Especially if the team wants to keep each other in lockstep. One part of that communication is how the hardware/software interface will develop. Both the software team and the architecture team have their own needs. And the design and verification teams are stuck trying to keep the other two happy. This can be a lot of work. It can be error-prone as shown by Wilson Learning’s Verification survey of 2018. But why is that? Each company has its own philosophy of managing the hardware/software interface. Some companies believe a good tool is enough and will ensure the proper steps are taken. Others think if the process is good enough, that’s all that’s needed. The trouble is that neither of these options on their own is going to solve the issue. You need a blend of both processes and tools to make sure you come out at the end of the design process with a solid design. In this short tutorial, we plan to show how both process and tools can go hand in hand to create success when it comes to the hardware/software interface.

Gary Stringham will speak from his experience of having to write device drivers for several chips. It is especially complicated by the fact that chip designs are practically locked down by the time the software team gets them. He will discuss some of the hundreds of best practices he has collected. Gary's presentation will include his seven principles of the hardware/software interface design.

Richard Weber will talk about his experiences with registers and the hardware/software interface, how they affect the typical design flow, and how tools can help or hurt a team being successful. He will describe his perspective, from the chip design side, on how to understand what the software teams are asking for.

Jamsheed Agahi will talk about how the hardware/software interface design affects the verification effort. Jamsheed has been working with the UVM register package since its introduction to the working group. He will share how verification of registers can be simplified. He will share how you can use the register model to not only help your verification effort but the downstream effort of software development. Josh will lead the Q&A so that people can have a chance to pick the brains of these experienced engineers.

Speaker Bios:
Gary Stringham - Gary Stringham & Associates, LLC (
While employed at Hewlett-Packard, Gary developed and maintained several device drivers for ASICs and SoCs in LaserJet printers. He successfully diagnosed chip problems, developed software workarounds, and championed several design changes in subsequent chips, saving HP millions of dollars. From that experience, he wrote the book, Hardware/Firmware Interface Design.

Richard Weber - Semifore, Inc.
Richard, a co-founder of Semifore, has thirty years of experience in design and verification. Realizing that engineers have better things to do, he’s been active on the various standards that impact this field; from IP-XACT to UVM for over ten years. For this dedication, he won Accellera’s 2018 Technical Excellence Award. Richard uses his experience and knowledge of standards to help engineering teams with their productivity and communication.

Jamsheed Agahi - Semifore, Inc.
Jamsheed co-founded Semifore over thirteen years ago to help engineers be successful and productive in their work. Wanting to use his experience to make a difference in the industry, he joined various standards committees. Jamsheed is the secretary of both the IEEE and Accellera UVM Working Groups and is an active member of Accellera's Portable Stimulus Working Group.

Josh Rensch - Semifore, Inc.
Josh loves to help teams and companies succeed. He’s done that for companies big and small since 2001. He’s worked on the F-35 and the PlayStation 3. Since 2004, he’s focused on-chip verification. Josh joined Semifore to have an impact on the industry by helping teams better understand registers and their impact on designs.

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