Test Your Own Code! (I’ve Got Better Things To Do)

November is TDD month on AgileSoC.com. This is the first of a few installments where we look at the potential of Test Driven Development (TDD) in hardware development.

If you’re unfamiliar with TDD, the first and most obvious thing you’ll notice is that TDD breaks a boundary that many hardware teams – ASIC teams in particular – consider absolutely unbreakable.

With TDD, the person that writes the code, tests the code.


Before you rattle off all the reasons why it doesn’t make sense for people to test their own code, let me give you some background and attempt to explain where we’re going, both in this post and with our wild scheme to introduce TDD to hardware engineers!

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Does Constrained Random Verification Really Work?

Being that we’re a week away from TDD month on AgileSoC.com, I thought that an appropriate way to get people thinking in a different direction – yes… test-driven development would take us in a different direction – would be to dig up a functional verification article from a couple years ago that I co-wrote. A good part of the article focused on legacy process and it opens by taking a few shots at constrained random verification.

Constrained random verification is pretty mainstream in ASIC and FPGA verification these days, though it does mean different things to different teams. The argument for constrained random verification has always been that it’s a more productive way to cover the state space in increasingly large and complex designs. I used to believe that wholeheartedly. But after seeing and hearing about it fall short – from an efficiency point of view – many times, my current impression of constrained random verification is that it just doesn’t work as well as we all want it to.

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Guest Blog: I Tried It (Operation Basic Sanity) And I Liked It!

We’re happy to have another guest contributer to the AgileSoC blog. This one is special because it’s a case study on an exercise I’ve written about before and presented as part of my talk at Agile2011. I’ve called it The Steel Thread Challenge to reach the software crowd and Operation Basic Sanity to reach the hardware crowd. These are 2 different names for achieving on goal: finding ways to help hardware developers think in terms of early functionality and tangible milestones.

Catherine Louis, a long time agile coach and trainer, has tried the exercise on more than one occasion with SoC development teams. I’m happy to report she’s had some success with it and has agreed to take us though what she’s done (Note: I like the way she uses the term “tangible outcome”).

With that, I’ll turn it over to Catherine. Thanks again!

I’ve had some great success taking Neil’s Basic Sanity presentation (Agile2011, available here) as a retrospective exercise for hardware teams interested in learning about adaptive hardware development. (a.k.a “Agile”.)

If others have not tried it, it is time you give it a whirl.

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November is TDD Month On AgileSoC.com

It’s the biggest thing we’ve done on AgileSoc.com to date. We’ve been planning it for a while. Finally it’s going to happen (in about a month from now)!

November is TDD month on AgileSoC.com

Starting November 1st, we’ll be taking a closer look at how test-driven development fits into hardware development. We’ll have an overview of TDD, give our opinions with respect to how it fits in to the development/verification paradigm most of us follow now and hopefully have a few examples and expert opinions. It’s 1 full month dedicated to TDD!

All this and more rolls out through the month of November so be sure to join the discussion!