Open, Virtual and a Platform

by Dick Selwood, IC Design and Verification Journal

Let’s start with some thundering generalisations. It is taking too long to bring SoCs to the market. A big bottleneck, and a large and growing part of the overall cost of an SoC, is developing the software to run on the embedded processors. It is often not possible to begin software development until the chip architecture has been pinned down, which severely limits the influence that the software team can have over the architecture. The desk-top development environment, in which software is usually developed, behaves differently to the target environment. Hardware prototypes in, for example, FPGAs, if they are created, are different again, expensive to create and usually available only late in the development cycle. When the chip becomes available, debugging software running in it can be a nightmare.

This string of problems is only going to get worse as multiple cores, heterogeneous and homogeneous, become the norm for SoCs. If it is not easy to develop software for a single processor, software for multiple processors is recognised as being even more difficult to write and horrendously more difficult to debug.

OK. Common ground so far, and almost every presentation you have sat through covers aspects of this. Why rehearse it again?

Because, if Simon Davidmann and his team at Imperas have got it right, the situation is changing and changing radically.

Simon Davidmann is a very successful serial entrepreneur, with enormous experience in EDA. His web-based CV (Curriculum Vitae or Resume) lists 5 start-ups where he played a significant role. Much of his work has been with some aspect of EDA pioneering, and the list includes names and products like HiLo, SystemVerilog, VCS, and Ambit. His last company, Co-Design Automation, which he co-founded in 1998 and managed as President, CEO and Chairman, was sold to Synopsys for $36 million in mid-2002. He left Synopsys in 2003 and soon after founded Imperas. He (and his team) then spent several years (and, he estimates, about $4 million) developing the basis for a solution of the SoC software problem – a virtual modelling environment for developing software for systems using multiple processors.

Then what did he do?

He only ...

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