Indeed, static based techniques have taken-off in the recent past with simulation based flows becoming a bottleneck. With SoC having processing core and IP becoming more programmable, it becomes necessary after RTL sign-off to verify HW/SW interaction issues, application-level and performance scenarios. Guess, we cannot do away with simulation based techniques completely.
The software side of verification is also gearing up for renewed competition among the big vendors and verification-only companies like Real Intent. They are delivering their next-generation SoC verification suites with a focus on specific areas of concern. Clock-domain crossing, X-verification and reset optimization, SDC correctness and consistency, are some of the areas that are receiving dedicated RTL analysis using static analysis. Static analysis is a mix of structural and formal techniques that let designers focus on verification and not on customizing the tool to attack a problem area.
Besides raw speed, and capacity, the newest tools are addressing the data management for sign-off of these SoCs. Smart reporting and assisted debug is a key requirement otherwise designers and verification teams will drown in a flood of analysis results. All of this innovation and targeted investment will be making SoC sign-off manageable, if not easier.