A formal-based approach for efficient RISC-V processor verification

The openness of RISC-V allows customizing and extending the architecture and microarchitecture of a RISC-V based core to meet specific requirements. This appetite for more design freedom is also shifting the verification responsibility to a growing community of developers. Processor verification, however, is never easy. The very novelty and flexibility of the new specification results in new functionality that inadvertently creates specification and design bugs.

During the development of an average complexity RISC-V processor core, you can discover hundreds or even thousands of bugs. As you introduce more advanced features, you introduce new bugs that vary in complexity. Certain types of bugs are too complex for simulation to find them. You must augment your RTL verification methods by adding formal verification. From corner cases to hidden bugs, formal verification allows you to exhaustively explore all states within a reasonable amount of processing time.

This technical paper goes through a formal-based, easy-to-deploy RISC-V processor verification approach. It shows how, together with a RISC-V ISA golden model and RISC-V compliance automatically generated checks, we can efficiently target bugs that would be out of reach for simulation. By bringing a high degree of automation through a dedicated set of assertion templates for each instruction, this approach removes the need for devising assertions manually, thus improving the productivity of your formal verification team.

This paper is also available to subscribers of the Siemens Horizons online magazine.

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