Unified emulation and prototyping hardware is an industry first, says Synopsys

To enhance SoC verification and early software development, Synopsys, has announced what it claims is the industry’s first unified hardware system for emulation and prototyping based on the Synopsys ZeBu EP1 emulation system. 

Adding prototyping functionality to Synopsys ZeBu EP1, which is claimed to be the industry’s fastest billion-gates emulation system, allows developers to use a single verification hardware system throughout a chip’s development lifecycle, said the company.

This is a major innovation in verification hardware, according to Rohit Vora, senior vice president of R&D in the Systems Design Group at Synopsys, by providing a single system supporting both emulation and prototyping with higher performance and faster emulation compile time. “With Synopsys ZeBu EP1 system . . . companies have achieved 19MHz emulation and 100MHz prototyping clock performance, enabling them to run large amounts of software pre-silicon and accelerate project schedules,” he confirmed.

Presently, hardware verification teams use emulation systems for faster SoC design verification while software development teams need the additional performance that can be achieved with prototyping technology. The challenge has been for chip and system development teams to determine the optimal balance of emulation and prototyping hardware capacity. The Synopsys ZeBu EP1 system’s flexible hardware means that teams are free from the constraints of fixed hardware, allowing their verification and software development requirements to drive how and when to shift capacity between emulation and prototyping. This means they do not have to estimate early on how much of each resource might be needed.

The unified hardware system provides an easy-to-bring-up emulation flow with high performance and support for full debug visibility, said Synopsys. Verification and software teams can validate designs against real world interfaces at the highest possible performance using the prototyping flow of the ZeBu EP1 system. The unified hardware also has the company’s new, faster compile technology to reduce turnaround time by up to three times, compared to the previous generation’s compile technology.

Protocol solutions for ZeBu EP1 offer a wide range of connectivity options to enable execution of complex software stacks and support many advanced interface protocols, such as PCI Express (PCIe) 5.0 / 6.0, USB 4, HBM3 and Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) through at-speed connectivity with protocol interface cards, transactors, including virtual testers for virtual interface connectivity, speed adapters for in-circuit emulation and Synopsys IP prototyping kits, for fast IP integration, software development and system validation.

In combination with the Synopsys Virtualizer virtual prototyping tool, software developers have access to a fast hardware target for software development and testing using unified hardware for hybrid emulation and prototyping.


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