And The Survey Says…

Why you need to respond to this questionnaire.


Some of you may have received an email recently that looks something like this. Others may be getting it in a little while. This is an invitation to participate in a survey that is important for the industry, and I encourage you not to ignore it. Let me explain a little.

This survey has quite a long history. It all started in 2002 when Collett International conducted the first survey. Back then it included a little under 600 people and covered the U.S. only, but for the first time it highlighted what the industry had suspected but not known for sure – that functional verification was becoming a big problem for the industry and was consuming an increasing amount of resources. That message was amplified when, two years later, the survey was redone and the first trends appeared. A few years later, in 2008, Mentor, a Siemens Business, took up the mantle and commissioned Far West Research to do the survey. By this point it was clear that verification took more effort than design and the problem was getting worse. New tools and methodologies were coming online — some of that driven by the opportunities highlighted from the earlier reports.

From 2010 onward, Mentor has used Wilson Research Group to conduct the study, expanded the survey to be worldwide, rather than just the U.S., and has done it every two years. It also has separated out ASIC design from FPGA designs because it was thought this was clouding some of the results.

This is not a study of Mentor customers, and Mentor never gets to see who is in the study or who responded.  Each survey asks many of the same questions as the previous studies so that direct trends can be extracted. At the same time, the survey has to evolve to keep up with the new issues that companies face, the new tools and methodologies that have become available, and the emerging trends within the industry.

I spoke with Harry Foster, chief scientist at Mentor and the person who does the analysis of the results. He said some things are changing this year. “In addition to the data we previously gathered, our new study will be diving deeper into the functional safety process, understanding AI Processor development market size, understanding RISC-V development market size, understanding market adoption of life cycle or requirements management solutions that might to be required for very complex systems and SoCs, and completely revamping the questions around hardware emulation and FPGA prototyping to better understand these markets.”

The survey also will contain another change that was suggested by us. We felt that while multiple choice questions allow for in-depth analysis, they do not allow people to respond out of band. For that reason, the latest survey gives people the chance to say things that were not captured by the survey. It includes an open-ended question where you can talk about the difficulties you are facing, problems you foresee down the road, or perhaps gripes about tools that limit your adoption. This may help to gauge the sentiment of the industry.

We expect to meet with Harry again in August, to get a glimpse of the preliminary results, and to start disseminating that information with our readers. So please don’t ignore this email. I cannot answer the survey because I don’t design chips anymore. But if you do, please help the industry better understand your needs. If you deleted it, see if it is still in your deleted mailbox and spend the small amount of time that it will take to complete it. This is the only real way that the industry knows if it is addressing your needs — at least when it comes to functional verification.

Leave a Reply

(Note: This name will be displayed publicly)