Tooling and Design Flow

Tailored Design Flows

FirstPass understands that a disciplined requirements driven development process is the cornerstone of  successful product development. Clear, concise, and accurate ASIC/FPGA requirements provide the basis for all subsequent design and verification activities. We also understand that the level of requirements management has to match the overall intent of your project. From a simple proto-type to a fully certified application, let Firstpass put together a custom tailored design flow that best fits your needs.


Methodology and Tools

FirstPass has been in the industry long enough and seen enough successful projects to know that one methodology doesn’t fit all projects.  With regard to both the target technology (ASIC or FPGA), and the methodology or tool in question, FirstPass will work with you to find the right combination of methodologies and tools for your project to minimize schedule, cost, and risk.


Technical spectrum

Many projects worked at FirstPass center around the more complex aspects of the verification, physical, and infrastructure spectrums, however depending on the engagement model, we either blend in particular strategic methodology aspects or we can fully adapt to your existing legacy or ongoing project flow. We have the tools and infrastructure needed to operate at the appropriate level of methodological thoroughness for your particular project.





Design Tools

FirstPass has contracts with all the major EDA tool vendors, including Cadence, Mentor, and Synopsys. Our engineers have substantial experience with, and access to, a complete tool suite required to support your design. FirstPass also has extensive expertise in fully integrating with customer’s preferred EDA vendor and design flow.


Tuned Compute Infrastructure

FirstPass internal compute and data management resources are specifically designed to maximize performance in a multiple user environment using mainstream ASIC/FPGA development tools. Processing  and data storage capability is assessed by benchmarking industry standard simulation and synthesis tool performance on state of the art emerging compute solutions. The results of  benchmark testing feed into a hardware expansion and growth strategy that places a high emphasis on hardware performance. The end result is higher efficiency, faster regression times and reduced development cycle times.


Remote Access

FirstPass has experience working with a variety of customer remote interface models. On-site at the right times carries the highest level of importance, but often the predominant portion of effort can efficiently be executed using a secure means of off-site support. We have years of experience utilizing secure VPN tunnels and using a wide variety of data management schemes.  The depth of engagement into your infrastructure can be tailored to fit your comfort level and security standards.
Establishing a high standard for data management is a key element for remote access. We can integrate directly into your configuration management tooling,  we can set specific levels of configuration management synchronization between your site and ours, or we can assume full hosting  a configuration management tooling.
Depending on your exact needs, we often suggest supplementing remote access with strong integration and  synchronization between working teams. We easily integrate into your project management needs, and if interested we can provide suggestions based on our many years of customer engagement experiences.

Value Added Services

Mainstream Development Flows

FirstPass provides ASIC and FPGA design services to industry leading Fortune 100 technical companies. These  customers expect nothing less than leading edge state of the art tools, processes and design flows. We believe that remaining synchronized to mainstream development flows maximizes the re-use potential of product development, and helps reduce the risk that can accompany the use of one-off or obscure flows and tools.


Design and Verification Re-use

FirstPass is experienced with many different verification methodologies including traditional Verilog and VHDL testbenches, and advanced verification environments developed around higher level languages such as Vera, Specman, SystemVerilog VMM, OVM and UVM. FirstPass’s  preferred verification methodology is  UVM, which is considered the “industry-ideal” solution that effectively combines performance and reusability. UVM is designed to boost productivity in the development of your current verification environment, and what is created now can easily be leveraged as productivity gains on many generations of follow-on projects.


UVM is a SystemVerilog class library developed and maintained by Accellera, with an Open Source reference implementation.  These base classes provide the testbench structure, simulation execution phases, communication channels among agents, reporting methods, error tracking and pass-fail indications, timeout timers, etc., which all testbenches need in one form or another.  Less time “reinventing the wheel” equals more time for your important and value-added verification project.  The top-level testbench environment can be built quickly using the built-in capabilities of UVM, and the intelligent agents that do the real work of verification can be quickly integrated.


Follow-on projects can reuse code from the previous project, even when changes are required.  Using SystemVerilog object-oriented programming techniques and the UVM “factory” structure, any agent or even complete testbench environments can be easily extended and reused.  New functionality can be added, old functionality can even be replaced entirely, without having to rebuild everything from scratch or maintain multiple copies of nearly-identical source code.


Two testbench environments built with UVM have a similar “look-and-feel”.  This makes for a shorter learning curve for a new engineer joining the project, reducing their time to productive work.  When a new verification project starts, having a “template” to copy from is very useful.  The previous UVM testbench environment is an excellent basis for creating the new project, and can also be a great training tool for engineers new to UVM.


Bounded Verification Strategies

FirstPass believes in establishing a managed, disciplined approach to the verification process using objective criteria to clearly convey pass/fail, which in turn helps  quantify risk at the completion of the development process.

  • Rigor and discipline in verification, turns the “art” of verification into a “science”
  • Based on our experience with time-proven project management techniques and quality assurance processes (military, aerospace, DO-254, etc.)
  • Design specification is key, it is the source of all verification activity
  • Verification requirements are derived from the design spec, these provide a detailed description of the input conditions to the DUT and expected results from the DUT, specific coverage items are defined to measure and report the correct functionality of each requirement
  • Verification test plan documentation is created to partition and specify the verification code development, using the design spec and verification requirements
  • The list of detailed verification requirements serves several important purposes:
    • Verification requirements get prioritized, ensuring that critical design features are verified first and best, and helps manage schedule if a design feature is not available until later
    • Development status of the verification coverage items is tracked and reported
    • Coverage results from simulation are referenced back to the individual verification requirement and reported
    • Coverage results of all the requirements is gathered from regression simulation and reported, which helps determine when verification is complete, and to assess risk of any unverified requirements when the design is released



Using the QuickRamp method to develop a verification environment assures that the final product is in alignment with industry standard methods and techniques for the creation of a SystemVerilog test environment. You can be assured of the ability to integrate with other test environment components and simulation tools from across the industry, both now and in the future.

Learn more about the QuickRamp Program.

Customer Engagement

Business Engagement Models

FirstPass has flexible engagement models that fit every development need, business model, and budget.


Engagement Models

  • Turn-key designs
  • Block level design
  • Independent (adversarial) design/verification
  • Supplement your team with needed expertise
  • Consultation including methodology, reviews, etc.
  • No job too big, no job too small


Business Terms

  • Time and materials (hourly contracts)
  • Firm-fixed price contracts
  • Deferred payment terms (royalty/licensing-based)
  • Need something else? Let’s talk.


Seamless Integration

Based on our years of experience in subcontract engineering services, we have developed the ability to plug seamlessly into our customer’s organizations. We pride ourselves on being able to ramp up quickly, and to be a contributing member of our customer’s development team with a minimal amount of time or distraction.

Engineering Practices


FirstPass provides customers with high quality engineering design services and products that are developed using state of the art technologies and processes. Our development environment is structured to cultivate continuous improvement, which enables FirstPass to sustain a reputation for the delivery of defect free products and services.

FirstPass has passed multiple ISO-based quality audits by some of our most demanding customers, including Atmel, Northrop Grumman and Honeywell.


Database Security

FirstPass maintains high standards for protecting customer information.  Non-disclosure agreements are established with every customer, while visibility and access to project information from within FirstPass is managed on a ‘need to know’ basis.

  • ITAR compliant facility
    • Controlled data access
    • All personnel are US citizens or permanent residents
    • Developed within United States facilities
  • Standard security practices apply to all customers
    • Access to data restricted to those with a ‘need to know’
    • Fully encrypted transfer of customer data
  • Data transfer
    • FirstPass Secureftp
    • Encrypted file transfers
    • Separate directories, per project
    • Selective access and visibility
    • Data encryption (PGP/GPG, OpenSSL, others)
    • Encrypted email
    • Secure hardware to completely segregate data


Database Management

Successful product development requires a solid configuration management solution that incorporates revision control and problem reporting capabilities. FirstPass can either integrate into existing customer systems or can use trusted internal solutions.

  • Revision control
    • Subversion is FirstPass in-house tool
    • Experienced with Perforce, RCS, CVS, SourceSafe, others
    • Local or remote repositories
    • Various customer specific CM tools
  • Problem tracking
    • Jira
    • Bugzilla