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Deterministic start benchmark: SymbiYosys versus rtlv

This repository contains code to benchmark SymbiYosys versus rtlv for formally verifying a property that requires reasoning about a circuit's execution over a large number of cycles. See the rtlv paper for more information.

The property that we benchmark is called "deterministic start". At a high level, a SoC satisfies deterministic start if it clears all of its internal state after some fixed number of cycles after the reset line is asserted. See the Notary paper or the Notary GitHub repo for more details on deterministic start.

Scalability plot: rtlv outperforms SymbiYosys

For this verification task, SymbiYosys does not scale well. This is because of the encoding that SymbiYosys uses: it effectively requires the SMT solver to reason about the circuit's execution, even when most of the values in the circuit can be shown to be concrete values. On the other hand, rtlv uses symbolic execution, using Rosette plus some extra tricks to obtain much better performance when running over many cycles, because most of the computation happens concretely in Racket/Rosette.

Encoding the property


rtlv uses the rtlv/shiva library to prove deterministic start. This special-purpose tool does symbolic execution and makes use of intermediate solver queries to build up a final solver query.


To encode the property using SystemVerilog Assertions so that we can verify it using SymbiYosys, we instantiate two unconstrained copies of the SoC, assume that the reset line is asserted at the first cycle (and de-asserted for subsequent cycles), and we assert that their internal state is equivalent after N cycles. If this property holds, it shows that after N cycles, both copies of the SoC must be equal, which means that there is only one possible value for its internal state. Due to a limitation in SymbiYosys, we can't access signals internal to a sub-module using dot notation, so we manually expose all internal state to the top-level. To see the encoding, generate the SymbiYosys input files (see below) and examine a particular file, e.g.


Our goal is to benchmark SymbiYosys versus rtlv for proving a property that requires reasoning over many cycles of execution. To derive a scalability plot, we use the tools to check a property like deterministic start for a subset of the state (such that it could hold over a smaller number of cycles). In other words, we use the tools to prove that a particular subset of state is cleared after 1 cycle, after 2 cycles, etc., and we measure how proof time scales with the number of cycles of circuit execution.

To determine in the first place which subset of state is cleared after a particular number of cycles, which is required to produce the SymbiYosys code (that asserts that certain registers are equal after a certain number of cycles), we "cheat" and use a script based on rtlv/shiva.


To generate all the input cases, run make.

To run the benchmarks, run python3 bench-{symbiyosys,racket}.py. This will produce files bench-{symbiyosys,racket}.txt that contain timing measurements.



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