Industrial strength refinement checking

This paper discusses a methodology used on an industrial hardware development project to validate various cache-coherence protocol components. The idea is to use a high level model (HLM) written in Murphi for model checking purposes, and then to use the HLM as a checker during dynamic (i.e. simulation based-) validation of the RTL. Such a checker requires a formal notion of what it means for the RTL to implement the HLM. Due to RTL pipelining, concurrency, and different RTL/HLM semantics, an appropriate notion is non-obvious. We employ a notion we call behavioral refinement, and describe a methodology for creating refinement checkers. A novel aspect of our methodology is that all ¿ingredients¿ are specified using System Verilog (SV): even the Murphi model itself is compiled into SV. Thus any off-the-shelf SV simulation engine can be used. We report the successful use of our refinement checkers to catch bugs in a real project at Intel and give an example illustrating our methodology.

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