Thomson MultiMedias Experience with ClioSoft's SOS
John Gyurek, Senior Member, Technical Staff
Thomson Consumer Electronics
Overall, SOS has been an easy tool to learn and use. The graphical interface
has allowed new team members to transition quickly to the project with a
minimum learning curve. Product support has been excellent. The tool has
performed as advertised.
2. Why SOS?
We chose to use SOS over the VisualHDL's version control due to our design
methodology, which requires a wide variety of files and file formats to
be archived. SOS is well equipped to handle such diverse sets of data.
At Thomson Multi Media we chose ClioSofts SOS as our revision control
methodology for a large MPEG decoder and display processing IC. We wanted
something that was easy to use and that would allow the designers to concentrate
on design and verification tasks without writing scripts and more importantly
without creating a centralized knowledge structure that often emerges using
a complicated script based methodology. With most large projects, team members
begin to specialize in areas of the design flow that are common to all the
designers. Thus projects tend to have, for example, a synthesis expert,
a simulation expert, a RCS scripts guy and someone who remembers the phone
number of the pizza place that will deliver to the lobby. In general this
is beneficial, but in the case of RCS we decided that it was of little value
to project to use our resources to maintain the RCS archive. There is also
the human nature factor that if something is not easy to understand, it
wont get used. More than a few miscellaneous files and verification
testbenches were missing from the archive of the predecessor project because
the engineers did not want to hassle with the RCS procedures.
Besides being easy to use we had additional requirements. We had several
environments and a complicated tool flow that the revision control system
had to support. The tool flow is shown here with the file types that needed
to be archived.
We wanted to be able to have a unified revision control system that would
allow us to archive all the file types and provide status to all users.
With graphical entry tools the graphics generate code and thus it was deemed
beneficial to archive the graphical database as well as the code generated
SOS also improves the efficiency of the team. For example the designers
working at high levels of the hierarchy need to know when new versions of
low level blocks are ready or have been modified. All they have to do is
look at the GUI and check the revision. An icon tells them if their work
area is out of date or if they are not using the latest revision. Likewise
the synthesis results need to be tied to the graphical database files that
generated them for debugging phases. These requirements were satisfied by
ClioSofts SOS in a way that was intuitive and fast and did not require
script writing and maintenance.
4. Process Help
When it became clear that our design capture tool had some complex requirements
for revision control, ClioSoft came up with a custom solution in a few weeks
by working with the other vendor and delivered a solution that enabled us
to keep the design capture database under revision control without having
to change methodology in the middle of the project.
We have been particularly pleased with the relative ease with which SOS
operations can be customized; the tool is extremely flexible and configurable.
It is part of modern ECAD design to spend considerable time on setup and
debug of the tool flow. ClioSofts SOS product is one of the best ECAD
programs we have used in terms of quality and out of the box performance.
The support received from ClioSoft has been very good. Even though SOS
is easy to use, some questions about customization and use come up from
time to time. These were usually answered within 24 hours and the support
staff has been knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
The staff at ClioSoft went beyond the expected level of support. ClioSoft
designed, in mid-project, a custom solution that enabled us to use SOS with
our tool flow in a manner that allowed our design entry tool, exported VHDL,
synthesized database and layout database to all be put under a unified revision
control system. This was not small task. ClioSoft has to research and understand
the database structure of the design entry tool and find an appropriate
way to handle it in a revision control environment. They were able to give
us a working solution in a few weeks!
The use of ClioSofts SOS revision control has been a big help to
managing a large project. It has helped in areas of revision control as
one would expect but also in improving communications and give designers
freedom from the tasks of manual rcs jobs. We plan to use ClioSoft on future