As some of us have seen over last decade, approximately 5 years ago industry was upbeat about code/RTL linting with almost every EDA vendor offering products in this space. Some of them were start-ups acquired by big vendors (like LEDA.fr to Synopsys). At the end the Linting market proved too small for the 3 biggies and their focus on that technology got sidelined. In all, one company survived this wave well and that’s Atrenta – its SpyGlass product increased leaps and bounds both in its capabilities and installed base. Today SpyGlass is an undisputed leader in Linting and has enjoyed monopoly for more than 5 years, well done Atrenta!
Come recession, silently few smaller EDA vendors started investing on this niche segment and now we have ALINT from Aldec and Ascent from RealIntent. I’m personally thrilled to see more players on this technology – though the $$ may not be too high, the potential user base is large and investment is not all that HIGH as in a SystemVerilog simulator for instance.
From a user view though, Linting is a must have step in flow as recognized by experts like Adam Kronlik in a book: Functional Verification of Electronic Systems, Chapter 8 HDL Lint: http://www.iec.org/pubs/pub.asp?pid=13&bsi=3&cat=cont
(BTW, I have a chapter on the same book, Chapter 14).
Few notes on 2 modern linters here:
Ascent from RealIntent: (http://www.realintent.com/real-intent-products/ascent).
One of the traditional challenges of a Linter has been the “heavy noise” it creates. Recent Linters *claim* to do better there – especially Ascent.
Other interesting features in this linter are:
- Opportunities to improve simulation performance
- Operations with hidden or expensive implementation costs
True, your mileage may vary, but good thoughts indeed!
As we read more on the Datasheet of Ascent one gets a feeling that it combines a traditional Modelchecker inside it as well – as their PBV & ABV features talk about. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing from a pricing standpoint as the linters are usually far cheaper than model checkers. But a good try by RealIntent indeed!
ALINT from Aldec (www.aldec.com)
Fairly young in the market (~2 years??), it has solid STARC policy inside it. What really interests me in this is their full blown API for user defined checks – yes every other vendor claims/has it in some manner, but I have not seen this level of detailed support and even better – their flexibility and response time in enhancing the API as needed.
It will be interesting to see how they survive over say next 5 years! Maybe it signals some impact to the erstwhile King of Linting – SpyGlass!