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Verilog and SystemVerilog Quiz and Tips

This quiz shows a subtle "gotcha" with SystemVerilog Assertions.  The example comes from a real problem encountered at a commpany, though the code has been simplified to focus on the "gotcha" in the assertion.

The assertion verifies that the value of a parity bit is set correctly for the value of data for every clock cycle.  An assertion failure indicates something is wrong with either data or the parity generator logic. 

Assertion Code

property p_parity_check;
  @(posedge clk)
  disable iff (!rstN)  // no checking during active-low reset
  parity == ^data;
endproperty

pcheck: assert property (p_parity_check)
else $error("PARITY ERROR at %0d ns: data = %h, even parity = %b (expected %b)\n",
            $realtime, data, parity, ^data);

This assertion has a subtle "gotcha" when there is an assertion failure.  To illustrate the problem, the design under test for this example always generates a 1 for the parity, which is occasionally an incorrect parity value.  The assertion appears to work most of the time, but sometimes reports an error even though the values printed out in the error message indicate that the data and parity values are correct.  In the following simulation output, the first assertion failure is a real failure, but the second error seems to be incorrect — the value of parity is the right value for the value of data.

Simulation Output

# At 15: Requesting data
# ** Error: PARITY ERROR at 15 ns: data = 00, even parity = 1 (expected 0)
# ** Error: PARITY ERROR at 25 ns: data = 01, even parity = 1 (expected 1)
# At 45: Requesting data
# At 75: Requesting data

Waveform

pcheck             P    F    F    P    P    P    P    P

         +----+    +----+    +----+    +----+    +----+
clk      |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
     ----+    +----+    +----+    +----+    +----+    +----

     +        +--------------------------------------------
RSTn |        |
     +--------+

     ------------------------+-------------------+---------
data    00 (hex)             | 01 (hex)          | 02 (hex)
     ------------------------+-------------------+---------

              +--------------------------------------------
parity        |
     ---------+

Why did the assertion show a second failure when the printed values are correct at that time?

See the answer