Last week I published a commentary on the Electronic Engineering Times site about the recent growth in the hardware emulation market. I noted that hardware-based platforms have become almost as big a market as software simulation and that some industry projections see them becoming dominant over the next few years. Of course, our friends at Jasper are predicting that formal will become the dominant verification technology, so it will be fun watching a three-way race.
For this post, I want to dig a bit deeper on hardware platforms in general. Historically, such platforms have been divided into three categories: simulation acceleration, in-circuit emulation (ICE), and FPGA prototyping. The reality is that these are no longer clearly distinct categories; there is a lot of fuzziness and even some overlap. While the market for all three types of hardware platforms is growing, I find that my observations and opinions vary depending upon which specific solution I’m considering.