Polynomial Formal Verification of a Processor: A RISC-V Case Study

Lennart Weingarten1, Alireza Mahzoon1, Mehran Goli1, Rolf Drechsler2
1University of Bremen, 2University of Bremen/DFKI


Formal verification is an important task to ensure the correctness of a circuit. In the last 30 years, several formal methods have been proposed to verify various architectures. However, the space and time complexities of these methods are usually unknown, particularly, when it comes to complex designs, e.g., processors. As a result, there is always unpredictability in the performance of the verification tool. If we prove that a formal method has polynomial space and time complexities, we can successfully resolve the unpredictability problem and ensure the scalability of the method. In this paper, we propose a Polynomial Formal Verification (PFV) method based on Binary Decision Diagrams (BDDs) to fully verify a RICS-V processor. We take advantage of partial simulation to extract the hardware related to each instruction. Then, we create the reference BDD for each instruction with respect to its size and function. Finally, we run a symbolic simulation for each hardware instruction and compare it with the reference model. We prove that the whole verification task can be carried out in polynomial space and time. The experiments demonstrate that the PFV of a RISC-V RV32I processor can be performed in less than one second.