While the concept of a virtual platform – a faithful representation of the hardware of a new design, as a vehicle on which to develop the project’s software, ahead of the availability of the actual hardware – is not new, Magillem believes that there is a “new momentum” in adoption of SystemC/Virtual Prototypes.
Driven a decade ago by the consumer market (smartphones/tablets) with tight time-to-market, virtual platforms were developed to speed up early software bring-up. The VP market, Magillem says, has changed to cover new/adapted markets such as automotive, medical, aerospace, and IoT. The company sees this adoption as happening for three major reasons.
- System companies are becoming more involved in the development of ASICs or FPGAs through their digital transformation process: to differentiate a system, it is not enough to just assemble available IP, they need to create their own ASIC/FPGA and a VP is a solution to specify/verify their requirements, defined as an executable contract, between their various sub-teams or sub-contractors.
- Semiconductor companies are moving up to System level. They deliver end-to-end solutions, not just chips but boards and software. Not only do they integrate more system functions in the chip, but they also increase the supported software stack, now including services; for example, to address the complete safety/security issues driven by IoT. VP is one of the best solutions to manage derivatives and deliver an executable specification to their customers.
Smaller analogue/MEMS semiconductor companies, boosted by the transformed markets (e.g. automotive) or new emerging markets (e.g. augmented reality), look for differentiators to produce their devices sooner, better, and faster. Or, they are forced by their customers (the system equipment manufacturers) to provide a VP of their device.
Magillem adds that it also sees a change in VP usage, as platforms are now being used being to cover:
- Mixed analogue/digital platforms (not just pure digital) including sensors, MEMS, and RF