Get email delivery of the Cadence blog featured here
Welcome to the first installment of a three-part blog series examining the issues and opportunities for performing verification in the cloud.
For a while now, there’s been a growing interest in cloud-based EDA solutions, but the time wasn’t ripe for production deployment. People had concerns about security and the sustainability of the data centers. But nowadays, public clouds are highly secure, typically more secure than on-premise datacenters, which has reenergized thinking about moving design and verification to the cloud.
New chip designs are more complicated than ever, and cloud-based verification solutions can take some of the weight off local machines, allowing smaller companies to have more competitive times-to-market. Time-to-market is, and always will be, critical for a successful SoC development project. Designing and verifying a chip can cost upwards of a billion dollars, and if that chip isn’t ready when the market demands it, any dream of recuperating that cost goes right out the window.
In a survey conducted in 2016, it was found that, on average, 55% of ASIC development time is spent on verification. Past surveys show that this figure is consistent across previous years—but here’s the catch: the flow of fresh engineers into verification is three times that of design. So—even with three times as many engineers entering the field, verification time is only static. Clearly, increasing the engineer headcount can only do so much—a breakthrough is needed, and that breakthrough is coming in the cloud.
But why is the cloud the answer? Can’t companies just have more on-site computers to deal with the increasing machine cost of verification?
Well, no. Not every company can afford that—start-ups can’t, for one, and even for larger companies, replacing or expanding their existing farms can cost huge amounts of money. Even for the largest companies, for whom this sort of spending isn’t that much of an issue, constantly expanding and upgrading your computer resources is inconvenient and cumbersome.
Consider the figure below:
Here, we see a picture of a company that upgrades their computer resources before they become out of date. They never have an issue where their computing power isn’t enough; however, they’re spending huge amounts of money on state-of-the-art equipment, and replacing it just as often as everyone else, since the time-cost of installing new computers all the time factors in too.
Now, consider this:
Here, we see what is likely a smaller company, who can’t afford to replace their computers all the time. They get the most out of what they have—but they have to completely stop everything when the demands become too great.
What happens if the company doesn’t have to keep track of their own computer resources, and lets a cloud-based service do it, instead?
In this situation, a company can simply increase the amount of resources they use as they need it. They still have their own resources, of course, but whenever needs become too great, they can use the cloud to keep things running smoothly, as some extra power. This way there’s no great waste in running state-of-the-art equipment all the time, and no downtime when equipment needs to be replaced mid-project.
Now that we’ve set the stage, check back next time to see what Cadence has in store for the future of cloud-based verification!