Lauro Rizzatti, EVE-USA (02/24/2009 3:50 PM EST)
While emulation is fast becoming the most popular verification tool because design sizes and complexity are defeating software simulation, there's a wide disparity in the kinds of commercially available emulators.
The differences between emulators based on standard field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and those based on custom chips, whether based on custom processors or custom FPGAs, are vast. Moving forward, the standard FPGA-based emulator will ultimately prevail. If nothing else, for economical reasons.
Re-tooling and non-recurring engineering (NRE) charges are exceedingly expensive below 65nm and an emulation market of $200 million is not big enough for a large EDA vendor to justify $30 million to develop the custom chip.
On the other hand, there is a clear and sensible roadmap through the use of standard FPGAs at 45- and 32nm and beyond.
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