Will the Real ESL Please Stand Up?

By Dean ~ December 17th, 2008. Filed under: Systems Engr..

Ann Steffora Mutschler has an interesting article up on the System-Level Design Community page.  Ms. Mutschler does a nice job of covering the adoption of, and issues with, ESL, from the perspective of Mentor Graphics and Synopsys, with comments from Tensilica.  I was a bit surprised to notice that CoWare hadn’t weighed in on this discussion.

The article appears to settle on defining ESL tools as those that operate in the Transaction Level Modeling (TLM) world.

I had to chuckle at the section that seemed to suggest that, while designers might not be relying on ESL, they’re more than willing to throw more processors at the issue.  This seemed to complement Paul‘s recent post on designing multi-core systems

Although ESL convergence may not be able to be counted on, the use of processors can.

“People will go on using more and more processors, partly because processors are easier to model and they take some of the heat off verification in the sense that every function that is moved to a processor becomes programmable and therefore the sting of a bug in software is widely understood to be less than the sting of a bug in hardware. People really do want to reduce their bugs from hardware and software. Part of how you get there is by making a system more programmable,”

Although the story mentions modeling many times, it seems like the focus is more on specific methodologies and languages, like SystemC, rather than exploring new tools that might support better models.  I humbly suggest that the analysis and design space exploration enabled by leading edge modeling tools will trump the incremental productivity improvements to be gained from SystemC and TLM.


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