As ICs Grow More Complex, Design Verification Will Be Outsourced

Dec. 18, 2000
Many companies struggle to maintain a state-of-the-art verification environment. As engineering projects continue to increase in complexity, thorough verification is taking up more engineering time and creating several challenges for in-house...

Many companies struggle to maintain a state-of-the-art verification environment. As engineering projects continue to increase in complexity, thorough verification is taking up more engineering time and creating several challenges for in-house verification teams.

Verification and back-end work currently control a great portion in the project schedule—nearly 70% of the product development cycle. Additionally, time-to-market is a crucial factor in product development, as companies must bring their products to market faster than a typical in-house verification cycle allows. Another critical factor is expertise. Some companies spend years verifying complex systems simply because they don't have the tools or knowledge for quick and complete verification. Few engineers can control design, verification, and layout. An ongoing challenge too is the recruiting and retention of talented engineers to staff verification projects.

As a result, many companies are moving to verification outsourcing. Employing an outside group of engineers to verify a design lets these companies bring their products to market faster. This approach has many other advantages as well.

For example, many outsourcing companies retain highly skilled engineers who have a variety of project experiences and knowledge of multiple complex verification issues. These companies devote years to developing the best hardware and software design and verification tools and methodologies to drive their business, and to bring a high level of expertise to each of their projects. Furthermore, they possess the necessary wide range of domain experience that many companies don't have the time or money to recruit and train.

By outsourcing verification, a customer can better track verification costs and quality control over the skill and knowledge of engineers devoted to verifying complex systems and designs. As most companies will tell you, the value of verification outsourcing lies in the quality of engineers and the speed at which they can verify the project, helping customers achieve quicker time-to-market.

Outsourcing also solves a company's dilemma of allocating resources to recruiting top engineers, a difficulty faced throughout the industry. Hiring inexperienced engineers with little domain and verification expertise may cause more problems and cost more dollars than outsourcing. By outsourcing, companies have access to a wealth of engineering talent, regardless of location. Outsourcing firms can provide verification expertise to those customers located in remote areas who cannot attract a qualified staff due to geography.

Cost control is another key outsourcing benefit. Because many outsourcing staffs use their own tools and equipment dedicated to verification methodologies, customers pay less for hardware, software, staffing, and retention. Using a group of engineers with the skills and expertise to efficiently conduct verification not only lowers price, but it also greatly reduces the potential for errors that end up costing customers in other ways.

Verification outsourcing provides focus on verification tasks and, therefore, quicker results. This means faster time-to-market for companies' products and a greater return on investment. Because of this, we believe that future verification of complex SoC, ASIC, and FPGA designs will be completely outsourced. Overall, outsourcing a complex project can provide an experienced team of engineering professionals committed to the verification cycle. In turn, the team applies a consistent, thorough methodology to produce better results and provide a high ROI.

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