Biggest Hits and Trends from ARM TechCon

Emulation, Beer, and the Latest Processors

Bill Jason P. Tomas, Product Engineer, Hardware Division
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The recent ARM® TechCon Conference in Santa Clara was definitely the front-runner of my favorite conferences that I attended this year. Fun, informative and filled with software engineers, physical designers, design verification teams, and hardware engineers – ARM TechCon was the place to be to learn about the latest innovations from the embedded industry. Aldec was there showcasing our HES-DVM™ and HES-7™ platforms, which enable engineers to utilize emulation and FPGA-based prototyping to verify the latest ARM designs. 


110613_img_01_350_01One of the biggest trends I observed from EDA vendors at TechCon was Emulation with the latest and greatest ARM processors (bigLittle, Cortex, etc.). A major issue designers are facing is OS bootup – so incorporating Virtual Platforms and ARM models with emulation platforms was definitely a hot topic at the Aldec booth.  Also, In-Circuit Emulation (ICE) was gaining recognition for allowing verification teams to utilize real-time interfaces with their emulation platforms. Aldec showcased the HES-7 SoC DB, which utilizes a Xilinx® Zynq™ SoC with dual-core ARM Cortex®-A9 processors, and demod a Linux bootup running a simple Hello World to the user.


110613_img_02_307The event also included a festive evening Beer Garden which featured live music, games, food and of course, beer. We had a great time visiting with attendees that lined up to play hoops at the Aldec booth for a cold microbrew, as each had to “win” a beer with a successful basket. The ARM Techcon organizers definitely did a great job with the Beer Garden event, as everyone seemed to enjoy the laid back atmosphere after a day of exhibits, discussions, and technical demonstrations.

So what was my major takeaway from this year’s ARM Technical Conference? Verification of ARM-based processors is vital in the SoC design process. Gone are the days in which RTL simulation of block-level designs were sufficient, people need more! New methodologies such as Co-Emulation, ICE, Virtual Platforms, Higher levels of abstraction, and Hybrid platforms are paving the future of verification. With the HES hybrid HW/SW verification platform, Aldec will continue to provide growth and support for the new and upcoming challenges faced by tomorrow’s verification teams. For more on HES, visit


Bill is responsible for Aldec Hardware Emulation and SoC / ASIC Prototyping. He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering from Auburn University in Alabama in 2011, and currently undertaking his M.S in Electrical Engineering with a focus on hardware emulation methodology and Built-In-Self-Test for high capacity FPGAs. He is also currently a graduate research assistant for the University of Nevada Systems and Integration laboratory studying Network-on-Chip BIST strategies. 


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