As W. Edwards Deming famously said: "Without data, you're just another person with an opinion."
Emulation and FPGA-based prototyping are two technologies used for verifying complex hardware designs and validating systems with large software components. Architecturally, these tools are quite different, but the overlap in their capabilities and applications invariably invites some form of comparison.
As the "big iron" of the verification world, emulators boast muscular chassis wrapped in heavy cables and accompanied by hefty price tags. Cost, in fact, has been the primary knock against emulators. But these systems are quick to bring-up and quick to turn around when processing design changes. Emulators are also recognized for their strong debug capabilities that are comparable to those of software simulators.
Standing alongside an emulator, an FPGA-based prototype can appear small and lightweight. Often the province of one or two engineers, these systems are modestly priced as compared to their big-iron counterparts. Where FPGA-based prototypes shine is speed. While emulators can reach speeds of up to 1 MHz, they often have to settle for 500 KHz or so. Prototypes blow past this handily, regularly clocking in between 10 to 50 MHz, with some approaching 100 megahertz.
Click here to read more ...