Optima DA focuses on next-gen automotive semiconductor functional safety tools

29 October 2019

Optima-SE Screen Shot

Revolutionary high-performance Optima Safety Platform propels range of high-coverage safety solutions for automotive ISO 26262 fault analysis, driving order-of-magnitude performance improvements. Its fault injection engine forms the basis of unique hard & soft error automated fault analysis solutions, accelerating ISO 26262 verification & increasing device quality.

Optima Design Automation, a provider of unique advanced semiconductor safety verification solutions based on a revolutionary new fault analysis technology platform, launched today at the DVCon Europe design & verification event in Munich. Optima DA enables dramatic improvements in semiconductor safety verification time and coverage for safety-critical applications such as automotive semiconductor devices. 

Optima also announced the commercial release of its Optima Safety Platform, with an initial range of automated solutions for hard-error (permanent) and soft-error (transient) fault analysis, coverage maximisation and structural analysis. Based on 27 person-years of development, the Optima Safety Platform is already in evaluation at leading automotive semiconductor providers.

Functional Safety Verification is a critical requirement for multiple industry sectors, spearheaded by the Automotive ISO 26262 Functional Safety Standard. However outdated and inadequate tooling has rendered the required safety analysis process inordinately time consuming and complex, making it hard and almost impossible to achieve ASIL-D on large and medium size chips” remarked Jamil Mazzawi, Optima’s Founder & Chief Executive Officer. “Optima has engineered a fundamentally new technology that provides a fresh perspective for this development phase, shortening schedules from months to days, while simplifying the analysis process and dramatically improving coverage, a key quality metric in ISO 26262, opening the path to ASIL-D.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Nazareth, Israel, Optima is the recipient of a European Union Horizon 2020 Grant of 2.5 million euros, as well as other financing. This has allowed the company to retain leading semiconductor tool development and safety experts. A singular focus on automotive safety has led to the development of a proprietary fault analysis algorithms that forms the basis of semiconductor safety verification. By accelerating this process by orders-of-magnitude, Optima is positioned to become the leading safety solution vendor for automotive and other industry segments.

Also at October 2019's DVCon Europe design & verification event in Munich, Optima DA launched its next-generation Optima Safety Platform, (OSP), based on its Fault Injection Engine (FIE™) technology. OSP includes Optima’s first two automated solutions: Optima-HE™ and Optima-SE™ for hard-error and soft-error analysis, respectively. By increasing fault analysis performance by orders-of-magnitude over the next fastest solution, Optima offers its customers a reduction in analysis time from months to days, as well as automated coverage improvement and design safety.

OSP has been shown in private benchmarks to increase fault analysis performance more than two orders-of-magnitude over its nearest rival. To date, fault analysis of large automotive safety critical devices, as stipulated by the ISO 26262 standard, can require months of compute time to perform. By reducing this time to a matter of days or hours, new forms of analysis can be performed that dramatically improve device safety and quality, while ensuring an accurate measure of fault resistance. The addition of Optima’s automated CoverageMaximizer™ technology allows for design areas not analysed during verification to be easily eliminated, further improving the analysis process.

Up to now, automotive ISO 26262 fault analysis has made use of traditional, slow fault simulation technology designed for a different purposes, using 30-year-old algorithms and methods,” noted Jamil Mazzawi, Optima’s Founder & Chief Executive Officer. “We have taken an entirely new approach to this problem, building the fault-simulation algorithms from the ground up to realise dramatic improvements in this time-consuming process. This has opened the potential for new analysis solutions that allow previously unavailable operations to be performed that maximise functional safety coverage and ultimate device quality.

Optima Fault Injection Engine Technology
The only tool available for safety fault analysis has been traditional fault simulation, a 30-year-old technique that was designed to target semiconductor manufacturing testing. Optima’s engineering team has developed a new, proprietary set of fault analysis algorithms that specifically targets safety analysis fault injection.

By leveraging modern parallel simulation and formal verification technologies, avoiding issues caused by manufacturing fault simulation requirements, and taking a new slant on fault optimisation methods such as fault list pruning and collapsing, the FIE provides revolutionary analysis performance. One private benchmark of the FIE versus the broadly considered fastest rival fault simulator on a commercial design showed the FIE executing more than 1000X faster.

Optima has used the FIE technology as a basis on which to build specialised solutions for different fault scenarios

Optima-HE and Optima-SE Automated Analysis Solutions
The Optima Safety Platform includes a broad range of fault analysis solutions for different applications and industries. Its two initial solutions that target ISO 26262 automotive safety fault analysis provide streamlined solutions for hard errors, or permanent faults, and soft errors, or transient faults.

Optima-HE uses the FIE to perform exhaustive fault analysis for stuck-at-1 and stuck-at-0 hard-errors. Based on the ISO 26262 standard categorisation, the solution identifies dangerous faults in a design that are not trapped by a safety mechanism and could cause a significant failure that might lead to personal injury. It analyses large design code bases extremely rapidly, reducing a process that used to require months down to a few days or less. This enables development teams to predict an accurate metric for fault coverage that makes an ASIL-D rating for their devices possible. Furthermore, Optima-HE includes CoverageMaximizer technology that identifies areas of the device not adequately tested and provides guidance for the engineers to cover these hard-to-find gaps in the process.

Optima-SE also uses the FIE to perform soft-error analysis on transient faults. Transient faults are notoriously hard to identify due to their temporary nature. A technique of “flip-flop hardening” for critical areas of the design may be used to eliminate transient fault effects. However, hardening every flip-flop in a design is extremely expensive in terms of silicon area and power consumption. By iteratively applying fault analysis it is possible to identify a subset of the design flips-flops, which if hardened will ensure a high degree of transient fault resistance, while minimising additional flip-flop circuitry. However, this valuable process requires many fault analysis runs making it prohibitive for most device development programs. Leveraging the high performance of the FIE, Optima-SE makes this process possible in a reasonable amount of time, thereby dramatically increasing device quality. Running on a customer design of a commercially available CPU, Optima-SE has been shown to run over 10,000 times faster than regular RTL simulation.

Pricing & availability
The Optima Safety Platform, including Optima-HE and Optima-SE, both based on the FIE, are available today. The company will release CoverageMaximizer in March 2020. Pricing is available on request.


About Optima Design Automation
Optima Design Automation is the pioneer of next-generation fault analysis for automotive functional safety verification. The company’s product portfolio of automated solutions targets specific fault conditions, accelerating fault simulation stipulated by the ISO 26262 standard by orders-of-magnitude and enabling a dramatic increase in analysis coverage and ultimate device quality. Optima partners with leading automotive semiconductor vendors and EDA tool providers to create complete solutions that shorten safety critical device time-to-market. Co-funded by the European Union, the company is privately held and is based in Nazareth, Israel. For more information, visit Optima-DA.com


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