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Emulator handles 100 million gates at 20MHz

Posted: 24 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IC emulation tool? IC emulation device? chip emulation? chip emulation tool? chip emulation device?

EVE SA has developed what it touts as the largest and fastest IC emulation product to date. ZeBu-XXL handles up to 100 million gates at up to 20MHz, and it supports both hardware and software verification.

The enhanced ZeBu will put EVE on stronger footing with embedded-software developers, said president and CEO Luc Burgun. "If people can run a design of 100 million gates at more than 10MHz, that is interesting to the software people," he said.

EVE said its ZeBu product line blends the best of emulation and rapid prototyping to provide a moderately priced alternative to large, million-dollar emulation systems. Its purchase of Tharas Systems Inc. earlier this month moves EVE into the simulation accelerator business as well.

Configurable for designs from 12.5 million to 100 million ASIC gates, ZeBu-XXL provides twice the capacity of ZeBu-XL, according to the company. Until now, ZeBU-XL was EVE's largest system. Two interconnected units can handle up to 200 million ASIC gates.

Armed with Xilinx Virtex-4 LX200 FPGAs, the XXL emulator is said to run three times faster than ZeBu-XL. That yields typical speeds of 6MHz to 15MHz, said Burgun, with the potential to run as fast as 20MHz.

Burgun called the increase in performance significant. "If you can just run at a few kilohertz," he said, "that is not interesting."

ZeBu-XXL will also handle high-end processors and graphics chips, Burgun said.

The tool reportedly will reach 20MHz in its transaction, in-circuit emulation and synthesizable testbench modes. In transaction mode, a testbench runs in the workstation at a transaction level and communicates with the design in the emulator. In STB mode, the testbench is synthesized into the emulator. ICE allows connection to a target system.

The ZeBu-XXL compiler handles any design automatically, regardless of size, coding style, clocking scheme or memory structure, said the company. Today, said Burgun, users can compile and partition a 20 million-gate design in less than an hour. EVE is developing a 64-bit compiler.

A reconfigurable testbench architecture lets ZeBu-XXL control and optimize how the design receives a stimulus and communicates with the software running on the workstation. The tool communicates with VHDL, Verilog and SystemVerilog testbenches, as well as C/C++ or SystemC models, based on a C/C++ application programming interface. It supports communications at the signal, bit and transaction levels.

For software developers, EVE provides a "replicate" version of ZeBu-XXL that Burgun said costs half as much as the regular version. It comprises the same hardware platform but without the compiler. Software developers don't need to compile a design into the emulator, Burgun noted; they just need to debug it.

The ZeBu-XXL is already available, with prices starting at $200,000 for a six-month rental.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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