IBM J. Res. Dev

Functional verification of the IBM POWER7 microprocessor and POWER7 multiprocessor systems

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This paper describes the methods and techniques used to verify the POWER7® microprocessor and systems. A simple linear extension of the methodology used for POWER4®, POWER5®, and POWER6® was not possible given the aggressive design point and schedule of the POWER7 project. In addition to the sheer complexity of verifying an eight-core processor chip with scalability to 32 sockets, central challenges came from the four-way simultaneous multithreading processor core, a modular implementation structure with heavy use of asynchronous interfaces, aggressive memory subsystem design with numerous new reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) advances, and new power management and RAS mechanisms across the chip and the system. Key aspects of the successful verification project include a systematic application of IBM's random-constrained unit verification, unprecedented use of formal verification, thread-scaling support in core verification, and a consistent use of functional coverage across all verification disciplines. Functional coverage instrumentation, which is combined with the use of the newest IBM hardware simulation accelerator platform, enabled coverage-driven development of postsilicon exercisers in preparation of bring-up, a foundation for the desired systematic linkage of presilicon and postsilicon verification. RAS and power management verification also required new approaches, extending these disciplines to span all the way from the unit level to the end-to-end scenarios using the hardware accelerators. © 2011 by International Business Machines Corporation.