Quickturn updates its hardware emulation

Quickturn updates its hardware emulation
Richard Ball Quickturn has announced a complete overhaul of its emulation products at the Design Automation Conference. Launching the new emulation system called Mercury, Naeem Zafar, vice-president of marketing, said: “This is the most significant announcement we have ever made. It’s not just emulation, but design verification.” As well as performing the normal emulation functions, Mercury is designed to do fast simulation and hardware/software co-verification. While previous Quickturn systems were capable of these functions, they were harder to use, a trait which has been addressed in the latest machine. This is the company’s fifth generation emulator and can verify designs with up to 10m gates. All the nodes of the circuit are visible to the designer, improving verification capability. Mercury combines attributes of the existing product lines, System Realiser, which uses FPGAs, and Cobalt, based on custom processors. “One of the unique features is an embedded array of Risc CPUs along with the FPGAs. Behavioural level code can be mapped to the CPUs, so Mercury can be used earlier in the design cycle,” said Zafar. In a simulation of high level code, using hardware rather than software means event driven simulation runs much faster, up to a 1,000 times, according to Zafar. Quickturn has taken a hint from a competitor in another of its new features. Like IKOS, Quickturn is offering copies of the hardware, called replicants, at around half the cost of the main box. These are used by different members of the design team working on different portions of the design. The system has revision control ensuring that all the slave boxes are maintained with the same version of the design. The company has also worked on the software side of the emulator. “We worked with Xilinx to develop a specific software version,” Zafar said. This features modular compilation, so that if a hardware module or block is changed, then only that block is compiled. All the compiled blocks are then linked, as in programming languages like C. “This is going to be a key weapon if you’re going to attack deep submicron design,” Zafar said. The system is claimed to be 30 to 40 per cent faster than previous Quickturn emulators. “We also reduced the prices considerably, by around 40 per cent,” Zafar said. Quickturn’s revenues stalled somewhat during 1997, at $110m less than one per cent up on the previous year. The company is hoping Mercury will kickstart the revenue stream.


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