What is Hardware Emulation?
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What is Hardware Emulation?

Read on to know what is hardware emulation. How does it win over other processes

Hardware emulation is the process in which a piece of hardware is made to emulate the behavior of one or more other system under design. It is mostly carried out on very large scale integrated circuit designs with the purpose of functionally verifying the system under design.

Functional verification is the answer to cost and time efficient product delivery. There are two widely adopted processes of functional verification-logic simulation and FPGA prototyping. Both have their share of advantages and disadvantages however.

Logic simulation

It has low cost besides being accurate and flexible. How ever its key points are beneficial only in case of small designs. It loses its utility when applied to large designs by being slow in running the application.

FPGA-based prototypes

These are cost efficient and fast. However it fails to be error free and time efficient when applied to large designs. It possesses little debugging capacity which makes it very time consuming to debug using this tool.

For optimum results Logic simulation is used in early stage of verification process when bugs and fixes are occur frequently. Prototyping is used towards the end to discover bugs at system level.

Simulation acceleration

Simulation acceleration is used to sort out the limitations of logic simulation to some extent. In Simulation acceleration the design is made to run very fast in the hardware accelerator. The test bench continues to run on the simulator on the workstation. Communication is maintained between design and test bench with the aid of high bandwidth and low latency between the workstation and accelerator. The maximum speed on which a design is run is determined by the least time efficient device in the chain.

While FPGA prototype consumes a long time to implement and change design in-circuit emulation comes packaged with efficient debugging capability and time efficient design change and implementation. It carries out the task of implementing emulation within days while FPGA may take weeks or months to carry out the same task.

Emulation improves on acceleration by the method of substituting the live stimulus for stimulated test bench. The source of the stimulus may be target system or test equipment. Speed of emulation is at 10,000 to 100,000 times the speed of simulation.

Emulation often comes out to be the single most efficient technique for deliverance of the required high speed for application testing coupled with hardware debugging capacity.

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