The long predicted trend heralding the convergence of design and test speaks to the integration of two historically separate functions within the overall flow of system design. The clear benefits of integrating these functions, namely increased time to market and better overall quality, are achieved by including test definition and implementation coincident with design creation. These early test benches are then reused throughout the system design as it proceeds from simulation to implementation and, ultimately, to final system deployment. For you to truly achieve design and test convergence, particularly for complex functions like RF communications, your system design software and language of choice need to be capable of executing effectively at all phases of the design life cycle for both test and implementation. Historically, the tools and technologies employed to simulate or design a system are quite distinct from those used in system implementation. Furthermore, it is often the case that the tools and languages used for design and implementation are distinct from those used in test.
This creates a matrix of separate teams with distinct functions and tools increasing the complexity of communication and reducing the fluidity of code reuse in both your design and tests. These factors are the primary impediments to realizing the benefits of design and test convergence. Thus, the ideal system design software enables a single language for simulation, implementation, and test and maximizes reuse across all of the design phases and functions.
The Conventional Approach of Reducing Barriers Typically, tools that span phases and functions of the design process do so by attempting to reduce the barriers between each phase and function, not by creating a unifying environment and language that spans them all. For example, within the development of an emerging RF communication standard, a specialist in communication system design might model and simulate a communication stream in a purely algorithmic and mathematical sense. To test their model, designers would either create their own test bench or, in the case of industry-standard protocols, reuse a compliance suite.
August 13, 2012