FPGAs continue to expand into new markets, and continue to expand themselves in terms of capability and capacity. SoC designers are moving towards FPGA-based prototypes for time-critical verification purposes. The infusion of FPGAs into the embedded-systems community and the general convergence of hardware platforms has been a positive development.
FPGAs started as almost purely programmable fabric, but have since added embedded processor cores, memory, sophisticated I/O capabilities, and dedicated peripherals to increase their versatility as embedded platforms. The phenomenal growth in design size and complexity has made FPGA debug and design verification a challenge, and as their capability and performance increase, the debug and design validation techniques have not kept pace. Even the simplest of RTL designs need to be debugged and validated. This requires an intensive amount of engineering effort, the results of which are not predictable and do not always prove the design is functionally flawless.
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