SNUG Unit Testing Finale

2014-03-24 14.53.48SNUG Silicon Valley is all wrapped up for another year. I think my talk on tuesday morning went pretty well. Finding the right angle for introducing agile hardware practices has been a real trick for me and this week I felt I took a step forward. For technical practices, TDD is still my goal. For the hardware crowd it seems my UVM-UTest talk focusing on unit testing could be the right path for getting there.

(If you weren’t at SNUG and you have a group that’d be interested in How UVM Makes The Case For Unit Testing, let me know at I’m always happy to repeat past presentations in person or via webex!) Continue reading

UVM-UTest File-a-Bug Challenge at SNUG

Time for another UVM challenge…

So I’ve got SNUG coming up next week. I already posted a help wanted sign for hecklers that may want to hurl insults at me from 10:30 to 12 on Tuesday morning. That’s when I’ll be up on stage talking about UVM-UTest and how UVM makes the case for unit testing. Aside from the talk and the paper, I’ve also been pondering other ways to get the point across that unit testing is an effective way to verify hardware. I’ve been having trouble thinking of something appropriate… until tonight… I think… I hope… Continue reading

Not A Problem… The “Fluffy Stuff” Isn’t That Important Anyway

There are 17 different stages at the Agile2011 conference in Salt Lake City that cover a wide variety of topics. Though there are obviously technical stages (it is a software conference after all), what would probably look odd to hardware developers browsing the program is the number of stages dedicated to the non-technical (aka: the “fluffy stuff”).

Yes, you did read stages dedicated to the “fluffy stuff”, not just individual sessions. The 5 that stick out to me are:

I know that these topics are important to agile developers so I wasn’t too surprised to see them. What did surprise me though is that not only are these topics covered at Agile2011, they’re well covered with an average of 15 sessions for each stage! Now, I’ve never been to previous Agile2xxx conferences, or any software conferences for that matter, so I know nothing of content and quality (both of which I’m assuming are decent). But by the simple fact that these sessions take up almost a 3rd of the program, the folks that put this on seem to think they’re worth the time and effort.

In another universe… could you imagine going to DVCon and seeing a track called Collaboration, Culture & Teams with 22 sessions? Would SNUG, User2User or CDNLive have a track called Coaching & Mentoring with 15 sessions. How about just 1 session? One bright light I do see is at DAC where they have a “Management Day” on June 7th. Other than that, topics stay pretty technical at all of the above. I list these conferences because they are reasonably accessible for the average joe and generally well attended. If there are other conferences I’ve missed that do fit the bill, I’d appreciate you letting me know.

I’ll venture a guess that the sessions I point out don’t get run at hardware conferences because we hardware guys don’t have much of an appetite for the “fluffy stuff”. Even though leadership is important, even though we could probably learn something by listening to how out peers work with customers, even though there are times when we need to coach and/or mentor colleagues, we probably rely more on what we’re born with and experience first hand than what we learn. Or maybe as a group we figure that technical excellence will compensate for lacking the “fluffy stuff”? Maybe we already know what we need to know! Who knows for sure.

It is hard to argue against the fact that “fluffy stuff” plays a tremendous role in hardware development. There’s no denying it. And we could likely get better… much better… though it seems we’re a little behind when it comes to realizing it!


Q: Got an opinion for why the agile software crowd spends so much time on “fluffy stuff” like leadership, coaching and mentoring while we hardware folks appear indifferent? I’d like to hear what you think!

More AgileSoC? Are You Kidding Me? is an idea that Bryan Morris and I started about 2 years ago after a few long conversations at SNUG San Jose in 2009. Bryan had been interested in agile software development for a while, I was completely new to it. Even though I didn’t know anything about agile, it didn’t take long for me to buy into the idea that it made sense. A lot of what happens in hardware development, particularly in the front-end design and verification, is pretty similar to what the software guys do. Sure the packaging and delivery is different (to varying degrees depending on what your target technology is) but there are a lot of day-to-day activities that are similar. In the last couple years, I’ve heard many people say that agile “makes sense”. I think those people are right.

Admittedly, I have a pretty short span of attention so I was interested to see how long I’d stay interested. I figured 6 months or so and I’d start to wear out. Turns out I was wrong.

We presented our first paper titled A Giant, Baby Step Forward: Agile Techniques for Hardware Design at SNUG Boston in the fall of 2009. That was about 90% book report and 10% practice/observation. It was good for a first crack but I think we did better at SNUG San Jose 2010 with Agile IC Development With Scrum. We have video of both presentations here. In between, I did a presentation to a group of software developers at a Calgary APLN meeting in Nov 2009. That was a little stressful because it was my first time talking to people that know and use agile. Since then we’ve had 2 articles posted in the Mentor Graphics Verification Horizons newsletter, Agile Transformation In IC Development and Agile Transformation In Functional Verification. We’ve also had entries in the Cadence community blogs, a nice write up by Richard Goering and a guest entry that I put together.

Time has passed and we have we’ve been writing articles pretty steadily. It’s been 2 years and if anything, my interest has grown. As of now, we have 17 articles posted on by 4 authors. The number of articles slowly grows as we stumble into new ideas and find the time to put them together.

And now, for some reason, I think I need a blog so I can spend more time on this stuff. I shake my head as I type that but here I am anyway. My first guess is that this will be an informal dumping ground for ideas and/or experiences that aren’t good enough to support “real” articles on their own. Not entirely sure so I’ll start with that and see where things end up!