Cisma Consultants: Easing SoC Design and Verification with Custom Software Solutions

Champaka Ramachandran   CEO,  Raj Mitra, Vice President
Champaka Ramachandran, CEO

As semiconductor design and manufacturing grows into new application areas such as autonomous vehicles, machine learning hardware, the engineering requirements are becoming increasingly complex. Requirements for higher performance, lower power consumption and lower cost in addition to faster time-to-market are not disappearing anytime soon. Additionally, designing and verifying a System-on-a-Chip(SoC) is an elaborate process involving several complex tools, flows, custom libraries, and complex databases to store design data. Moreover, each design team follows a proprietary methodology. In such an environment, where complexity is huge, and the methodologies are not standard, investments in custom CAD services become a necessity.

Founded in 2011, VeriKwest Systems Inc (incorporated in CA, USA) has a vision of helping customers improve their time-to-market by solving their complex problems in SoC design and verification. Verikwest is focussed on these 4 service areas: a) Custom CAD software, (b) Machine Learning (c) Verification Services and(d) Corporate Trainings. Cisma Consultants(P)Ltd (Cisma), a company incorporated in India, is a wholly owned subsidiary of VeriKwest Systems Inc.

Cisma is a custom-software development service provider with expertise in the entire gamutof semiconductor design and verification processes. Today’s SoC design and verification teams require many custom software tools to handle in-house proprietary methodologies and flows. Cisma’s software development services cater to this requirement, and set the company apart in the market. “We have a niche CAD software development team. Typically, where a majority of semi-conductor organizations focus on the silicon aspect, we are well skilled in both the hardware and software domains”, says Raj Mitra, Vice President, Cisma.

The principals of Cisma Consultants have an extensive background, having worked with industry giants like Texas Instruments, Cadence, and Synopsys. The CEO, Champaka Ramachandran, Ph.D, has 25 years of EDA software experience and
has developed several commercial EDA tools in Synopsys, Synplicity, Cadence and Lightspeed Semiconductors targeting both ASIC and FPGA technologies. She has a number of synthesis patents associated with physical synthesis. Raj Mitra, Ph.D., Vice President has 25 plus years of experience working with organizations including Texas Instruments, Synopsys, Cadence, Interra Systems, and CMC Ltd. As the EDA Manager for the India site of Texas Instruments, Raj was instrumental in developing efficient methodologies for formal verification and high level synthesis. With their combined efforts, supported by several other expert engineers, Cisma has been bringing in some ground-breaking methodologies in the design & verification of semiconductors.

"Cisma engineers have in-house expertise in several areas including, front-end compiler techniques, IPXACT, SystemVerilog for design and UVM for verification"

Expertise in Custom EDA Software
Cisma is primarily focused on developing proprietary EDA software solutions for its customers. Cisma engineers have in-house expertise in several areas including, front-end compiler techniques, IPXACT, System Verilog for design and UVM for verification. This knowledge and expertise have been used in several customer projects including UVM code generation, generation for low power controllers, stitching together a complex SOC, and software for managing SOC design/ verification data.

Cisma’s software strength can be highlighted with a couple of key projects that are currently underway. Recently, Cisma used its expertise in low-power to deliver a technology for streamlining the generation and verification of low power controllers This technology is based on the widely accepted IEEE standards such as UVM and Universal Power Format (UPF). Using its expertise in compiler technologies (ANTLR, LLVM, Bison), Cisma is engaged with a customer for compiler development and compiler optimization for a state-of-the-art CPU.

Any SoC integration project requires handling a large amount of proprietary data, typically available in internal formats. It is not uncommon to find design teams struggling with ad-hoc data, stored in multiple spreadsheets while managing the SOC integration process. Cisma engineers have created custom solutions for streamlining the management, storage and re-use of this SoC data with software databases, web-based data-handling tools, data-consistency checkers, and reporting engines, all
developed with modern software languages like Perl, Python, C#,Java and C++.

With the wide spread growth in Machine Learning and its potential to solve a range of problems, Cisma has invested in ML technology for more than a year. The company has leveraged this expertise for architecting, implementing and delivering a project that uses ML for analysis of network traffic data. Expansions of these solutions into the traditional SoC design and verification areas are currently being explored.

Quality of the services rendered has remained the most important criteria for Cisma management. “We are known for offering high quality software services and we also understand the customer pain-points very well as we have been in this industry for a long time. Hence, we are very focused on quality, and we train our engineers on the latest software engineering practices adopted by commercial software companies”, says Champaka. “Additionally, we have developed a stringent hiring process to bring onboard engineers who have the correct mindset to contribute in both hardware and software domains” adds Raj Mitra.

As the semiconductor industry expands to new domains, the future needs of custom software are also growing at a good pace. Some of Cisma’s clients are adopting new verification methodologies like Portable Stimulus Standard for automatic generation of complex test-cases. This offers Cisma a tremendous opportunity for growth. “Our expertise will help us to take on client projects that use the new PSS based verification methodologies”, adds Raj Mitra.

Raj Mitra, Vice President

“Additionally, the semiconductor industry is starting to adopt cloud based solutions. We have prototyped a cloud based verification flow for SystemC with a focus on data security. We are looking at expanding this solution to other areas of design and verification on the cloud.” adds Champaka.

With investments in Machine Learning, Cloud and RISC-V technologies, Cisma is all set to grow at pace with the semiconductor industry.