Simulate Smarter than a Secret Agent

Learn how features like Plot Window can save your life

Sunil Sahoo, Corporate Applications Engineer
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In James Bond movies, Agent 007 has some awesome gadgets but never listens to Q’s instruction on how to use them properly. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if Bond actually did learn about the various features of his tools and how to use them most efficiently.

Sure, that would probably eliminate all of the plot twists that make for a great movie, but when it comes to real life - I don’t care for plot twists. What about you? If you were a secret agent given these tools to keep you out of trouble or even save your life - would you take the time to learn about all of the features?

Now what if it wasn’t a cool, secret agent gadget… but a simulator?

You’re thinking, “A simulator? I know how that works, I use it every day.” But that was what 007 would say, “It’s just a car, I know how that works.”

We all know that a simulator simulates HDL code and delivers time domain based results that can then be analyzed. However an advanced simulator like Riviera-PRO™ offers far more than simply time-domain based Results Analysis. This advanced verification platform offers a Plot feature that enables viewing data in a whole new way. Users can look at the data of one object with respect to its index, or the data of one object with respect to another. Polar, vector, and image plots are available as well.

If you already know about this feature, good for you. If not, you have some catching up to do. See Using Plots for HDL Debugging as a Powerful Alternative to Traditional Waveforms [white paper].

Some readers may already be familiar with this Plot feature, and already know that it can display data as QAM constellations. This is all good and fun until hit by a sample size of “2” to the power of “a whole lot”. In this instance, we would end up with something like this:

 blog_img_031314_01_600  Figure 1. Plot windows that communicate too much data can be confusing.


What to do with this data? The blue image on the left at least has some remnants of a QAM constellation, but the red image is a mess. While it is helpful to see how a particular signal is behaving, during long simulation runs all this data crammed into a small space can be confusing or even useless. (This makes the waveform begin to look more appealing.)

Fortunately, the new 2014.02 release of Riviera-PRO now offers a Limit feature within the Plot window. This feature delivers the ability to limit values over a certain range of points, or to select points between specific time intervals. With this new feature, users can specify what they wish to view within the Plot window.

 blog_img_031314_02_450Figure 2. Add Limits to Plots for a better view.


Now, we can actually see what is going on here.

 blog_img_031314_03_600Figure 3. Plots windows with limits in place deliver a clearer picture.


In this release, the Waveform and Plot windows are also synchronized. By simply right-clicking a suspicious looking point on the Plot window, a user can then set the cursor at the time the point was generated. Returning to set Limits and viewing a clearer picture of the last few values will help the user determine what is wrong with the suspicious point.

 blog_img_031314_04_378 Figure 4. Plots windows with limits in place deliver a clearer picture.


So maybe these features won’t save your life if you’re being chased by villains with machine guns, but they will certainly help verify your designs with very little effort and assist in localizing problems in a very short time.

Have you tried the Plot window, what do you think? On another note, which actor do you think portrayed James Bond best? Share your comments here.


Sunil Sahoo provides support for customers exploring simulation tools as an Aldec Applications Engineer. His practical engineering experience includes areas in, Digital Designing, Functional Verification and Wireless Communications. He has worked in wide range of engineering positions that include Digital Design Engineer Verification Engineer and  Applications Engineer. He received his B.S. in Electronics and Communications Engineering from VIT University, India in 2008 and M.S in Computer Engineering from Villanova University, PA in 2010.


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