Mentor's next-gen emulator promises more performance, capacity
4/25/2012 9:01 AM EDT
SAN FRANCISCO—EDA vendor Mentor Graphics Corp. Wednesday (April 25) announced the availability of its next-generation hardware emulation system, Veloce2, promising twice the performance, twice the capacity and four times productivity gain in the same footprint and power consumption as its predecessor.
Mentor (Wilsonville, Ore.) also tipped a related new concept, Veloce VirtuaLAB, said to provide verification engineers access to easy-to-use, software-based peripherals connected to the Veloce platform. These software-based peripherals provide a "virtual lab" environment to verify complex electronics systems, including the embedded software and the SoCs that make up the system prior to first silicon availability, according to Jim Kenney, director of marketing for Mentor’s emulation division.
According to Kenney, more customers continue to adopt emulation as designs get larger and the gap between emulation performance and simulation tools grows wider. Kenney said Mentor sees growth of emulation driven by three factors: larger designs, the need among existing emulation users for more capacity and customers' desire to execute debug software sooner than they can with a simulator or FPGA prototype.
According to Gary Smith EDA, the emulation market is expected to be worth about $211 million in 2012, up from about $118 million in 2008. Kenney, who believes those numbers may be conservative, used additional data supplied by the EDA Consortium to estimate that the emulation market was worth about $225 million in 2011 and expected to be worth more this year.
Gary Smith EDA estimates that the market share of Veloce, the predecessor to the system introduced Wednesday, grew from about 9 percent in 2008 to about 36 percent in 2010.
"We've done quite well and, now that we are introducing a new product, we expect to keep capturing more market share with Veloce," Kenney said.
Veloce2 is built upon a full custom emulation IC, Crystal2, developed from the ground up by Mentor, according to the company. The 65-nm chip's fast compile, full debug visibility and advanced memory modeling are at the heart of the Veloce2 platform’s performance and capacity gains, Mentor said.
Veloce2's software suite is backward compatible with first-generation Veloce emulators, boosting the productivity of current Veloce customers and preserving their investment while extending the useful life of their Veloce hardware, Mentor said. Future generations of Veloce will adhere to this common software philosophy, making Veloce emulators an excellent long-term investment, according to the company.
Kenney said the Veloce VirtuaLAB is a new concept pioneered by Mentor, which offers a number of advantages over in-circuit emulation. By integrating RTL models of key peripherals like USB, Ethernet, and PCIe, the VirtuaLAB is able to create a full target environment that allows developers to validate both the hardware and embedded software, before any hardware is manufactured, accelearting product design cycles, he said.
Veloce VirtuaLAB is entirely software-based, making it easy to replicate to support multiple software and hardware developers simultaneously, according to Mentor. Previously, system developers had to connect physical peripherals to the emulator via hardware speed adaptors, making the process cumbersome and expensive to support multiple users simultaneously.
According to Kenney, Veloce VirtuaLAB effectively takes the emulator out of the lab environment and moves it into a data center environment, where the resource can be shared across multiple projects and geographies. Kenney noted that VirtualLAB can be reconfigured without physical access, a key requirement to it being hosted in a datacenter.
Veloce VirtuaLAB peripherals are available for most popular protocols, such as multimedia video/audio standards, Gigabit Ethernet, USB, PCI Express, SATA, and SAS. Mentor said more will follow.
The Veloce2 platform and Veloce VirtuaLAB are available immediately, Mentor said. According to Kenney, Mentor has already delivered six Veloce2 systems to customers, with most of them now being used in production.
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