New-Tech Europe Magazine | Q2 2021

Market-Driven Trends in Hardware Emulation

Jean-Marie Brunet & Lauro Rizzatti

Five of the largest semiconductor vertical markets are combining to drive several of the widest industry trends: unending growth in design complexity and size, proliferation of peripherals, increase in computing power, surging I/O traffic activity, and a critical need to contain the otherwise escalating energy consumption. The cumulative effects of these trends impact dramatically the design verification landscape and foster widespread adoption of hardware emulation platforms. The five verticals contributing to these trends are data center networking, communication/5G, autonomous driving (AD), storage, and artificial intelligence (AI) & machine learning (ML). A brief history of hardware- assisted verification According to the ESD Alliance, a SEMI Technology Community, the

hardware-assisted verification (HAV) market has grown haltingly since 1995, lagging behind hardware description language (HDL) simulation with a gap exceeding $200 million for the entire 2000-2010 decade. Starting in 2011, a surge in HAV revenues closed the gap, only to reopen and widen again from 2014. In 2018, a new reality reversed the gap in favor of HAV tools. The ESD Alliance reported a 2020 record revenue for HAV tools in the amount of $718 million. See Table # 1. It is reasonable to assume that the drive to embrace hardware-assisted verification from the five critical markets will continue and accelerate in the foreseeable future. Trends and verification challenges in data center networking, communication/5G, AD, AI/ML, and storage markets underline how leading-edge hardware emulators — the largest contributor to the HAV

market —can address them. Power trends and power analysis are briefly discussed in the last section. Data center networking Data center networking enjoyed explosive growth sustained by new applications, such as software- defined networking (SDN). Emerging protocols that include 5G, time- sensitive networking (TSN), and automotive internet played a role as well. All contribute to an expanded port count, now exceeding 256, increased port speeds approaching 800Gb/sec, enlarged bandwidth, and lowered latencies. The consequence is exploding design sizes into multi- billion equivalent gates, and daunting pre-silicon design verification due to shrinking time allocation to ensure that performance and power budgets are met. Hardware Emulation for Networking To meet the challenges, a leading- edge hardware emulator must

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