Posted by Tom De Schutter on June 25, 2015
A couple of weeks ago I was with a virtual prototyping user who described the benefits his company has seen from deploying virtual prototyping for early software development. The use of virtual prototyping has been rolled out progressively to more projects over the years, making it possible for the company to measure its impact on the software availability schedule and the impact has been dramatic. He stated that the software team’s stance on virtual prototyping has changed from “we don’t want it” to “we will tolerate it” to “we want more”.
In fact the shift left of the software development schedule and the availability of quality software through the use of virtual prototyping has been so dramatic that software availability, in a lot of cases, is no longer the long pole in the tent when it comes to releasing a new SoC.
Given the increased importance of software driven use cases and the explosion of software that has to run on a SoC, verifying the hardware in the context of the software has become the critical path.
However, this doesn’t mean that shift left of software development is becoming less important in favor of shift left of the hardware design and verification. In fact, it means that the software needs to be available even earlier as it is now a key factor in verifying the hardware. The result is a double shift left of hardware and software.
It also expands the role of virtual prototypes. Thus far the emphasis has been mostly on enabling early software development to ensure software availability alongside the hardware. Now virtual prototypes can help in accelerating software availability to drive the hardware verification and the hardware/software integration. Plus a hybrid setup of virtual prototype and hardware emulator can provide much faster execution of the software stacks as part of the software-driven verification step.
As discussed in a previous blog, hybrid emulation mixes the speed of a virtual prototype to run the application subsystem with the ability to verify the rest of the SoC mapped onto an emulator.
With the continuous growth of software content and complexity, and increasing time to market pressure spilling over from mobile to all other electronics driven markets, including automotive, shift left is more important than ever. In fact the shift left concept has become a universal term across software and hardware. This means that an investment in virtual prototypes pays off even more so than before. Since they enable earlier software availability and accelerate software driven hardware verification (in context of a hybrid emulation setup), their use has become a no-brainer. At least that is what users are telling me …
Patrick Sheridan is responsible for Synopsys' system-level solution for virtual prototyping. In addition to his responsibilities at Synopsys, from 2005 through 2011 he served as the Executive Director of the Open SystemC Initiative (now part of the Accellera Systems Initiative). Mr. Sheridan has 30 years of experience in the marketing and business development of high technology hardware and software products for Silicon Valley companies.
Malte Doerper is responsible for driving the software oriented virtual prototyping business at Synopsys. Today he is based in Mountain View, California. Malte also spent over 7 years in Tokyo, Japan, where he led the customer facing program management practice for the Synopsys system-level products. Malte has over 12 years’ experiences in all aspects of system-level design ranging from research, engineering, product management and business development. Malte joined Synopsys through the CoWare acquisition, before CoWare he worked as researcher at the Institute for Integrated Signal Processing Systems at the Aachen University of Technology, Germany.
Tom De Schutter
Tom De Schutter is responsible for driving the physical prototyping business at Synopsys. He joined Synopsys through the acquisition of CoWare where he was the product marketing manager for transaction-level models. Tom has over 10 years of experience in system-level design through different marketing and engineering roles. Before joining the marketing team he led the transaction-level modeling team at CoWare.