Our Verification Engineers check the chips, long before they go to production. They need to detect problems before they happen and they are a crucial part so that our customers can install working products in their systems. Our colleague Thomas Rickes from Munich gives some insighs into verfication engineering.
Overview: Tasks & Requirements
As a Verification Engineer, you will analyze the prototypes of electronic products so that problems can be recognized and solved before production starts. For example, you will make sure that all of the components synchronize properly in order to identify potential failure sources. Your results can then be used to make improvements to the product design.
Your tasks consist of:
- Responsibility for the development of the verification environment
- Responsibility for the functional and formal verification
- Defining and implementing test cases
You have the following skills:
- Degree in electronic engineering, information technology or similar
- Fluent in German and English
Thomas Rickes, Principal Design and Verification Methods from Munich
Using simulation scenarios, I test whether the chip bears up to customer specifications even before it goes to production. Depending on the chip, one to eight colleagues work on verification of one product. My results either go back to the chip designer as a change request or I present them to management as a decision making basis.
A typical day for me can look like this: normally, simulations are run overnight. In the morning, I look at the results and discuss them with either other verfication engineers, developers, or application engineers. Together we work out hypotheses about what the cause for the possible irregularities could be. Then I go back and test the results in even greater detail and give feedback to the designer that something on the chip needs to be changed.
Time to market needs to be as quick as possible. This means you have to be able to live with the fact that not all parameters can actually be tested in depth. You need to make compromises and focus on what’s essential: Which requirements are really critical?
You have to proceed in a structured way, and most importantly, work transparently. The Verification Engineer always needs to be able to disclose what the status is and with what probability this thing or the other may occur. Based on these questions, we also present management with bases for making decisions.
The work usually runs in cyclical phases: There is a critical phase before going to production and then less stressfull times afterwards. You have to be able to budget your energy well.
For me, the creativity of the work is exciting: I need to challenge the chip. I have to consider which weaknesses it could have, what could go wrong and recognize problems before they happen.
Additionally, I like the back and forth of ideas and the teamwork. It’s always nice when we recognize irregularities together before they can do damage. I am proud I can contribute that our customers can install working products in their cars.
However, the importance of having a good verification process is not always clear to all employees. So sometimes I also have to do a lot of work convincing people throughout the entire process planning.
I considered studying medicine, mathematics, or physics – but then I turned to electrical engineering. The decision worked out nicely. Sometimes my job seems like a doctor’s: We both examine “patients” for possible diseases, but we also take preventative measures so that these diseases don’t happen in the first place.
After my university studies, I started my career in memory product design. It’s good if you have a background in circuit design. But working in verification is fine for beginners too. We often put together tandem teams with experienced colleagues.