Synopsys enhances virtual prototyping tool for embedded software development

  • 06-Sep-2012 04:43 EDT
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Virtualizer Development Kits contain software development tools enabling greater visibility and controllability into the system software execution, thus increasing productivity for software developers. This caption shows the software developer tools for an infotainment platform using the ARM big.LITTLE processor.

Synopsys at the SAE Convergence 2012 conference in Detroit Oct. 16-17 will highlight its Virtualizer tool set for creating virtual prototypes and Virtualizer Development Kits (VDKs) that accelerate embedded software development.

The new release of Virtualizer improves modeling productivity through a new model authoring feature and IP specification import function. These features enable engineers to develop system-level models and assemble them into virtual prototypes up to three times faster, according to Synopsys. In addition, enhanced support for popular debugger tools allows software developers to easily integrate Virtualizer-based virtual prototypes into their existing software debug flows.

"Using Virtualizer, we can abstract the full SoC [system on chip] design into a virtual prototype in a very short period of time to facilitate early software development and hardware/software integration," said Satoshi Aoki of the Embedded Platform Development Department at Ricoh Co., Ltd. "We believe Virtualizer is a must-have tool for SoC development."

The virtual prototyping solution is an integral part of what Synopsys claims is the industry's most comprehensive solution of tools, models, and services for early software development, hardware/software integration, and system validation. It addresses the increasing software complexity associated with semiconductor and electronic products by enabling the efficient creation of SystemC-based transaction-level models (TLMs), as well as the assembly of TLMs into virtual prototypes representing complete systems.

Virtualizer can be used in a wide variety of applications including systems such as engine and transmission control, braking systems, power steering systems, chassis domain control, airbags, advanced driver assistance systems, and infotainment systems. For example in control applications, the electronic control unit at the core of safety-critical systems uses increasingly complex multicore and networked hardware and contains growing software content. Virtual prototypes created with the tool set are high-speed, fully functional software models of physical hardware systems under development.

They can be used in a broad range of design tasks including software development (for microcontroller abstraction layer/complex drivers, multicore software, and AUTOSAR Stacks) and integration and test (e.g., virtual hardware-in-the-loop, fault injection). They deliver the benefits of starting software development, integration, and test early, bridging development gaps until full system hardware is available. They deliver better fault injection, provide enhanced debug and analysis capabilities, and are easy to deploy to the development community.

The Virtualizer tool set is also used by designers to create customized VDKs, software development kits containing design-specific virtual prototypes, plus debug and analysis tools and sample software, which can be deployed to software development teams up to 12 months before silicon availability.

Ready-to-use VDKs for ARM big.LITTLE processing and ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore processor-based designs are also available from Synopsys.

"Mitigating development risk and reducing time to market are key considerations for companies developing complex systems such as smartphones, tablets, and smart-TVs," said Javier Orensanz, Director of Product Management, System Design Division, ARM. "The Synopsys VDKs for ARM big.LITTLE processing and Cortex-A15 processor-based designs enable engineers to achieve optimal results by addressing these considerations. When used alongside ARM Development Studio 5 and the ARM Streamline performance analyzer, engineers are able to improve energy efficiency and even further reduce development risk."

This Virtualizer release incorporates a new graphical simulation profiler that makes it easier for virtual prototyping teams to find and address simulation bottlenecks. Out-of-the-box support for the latest APIs in popular software debuggers such as the Lauterbach TRACE32 System and ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5) enables software teams to use VDKs to create a powerful, integrated environment for multicore software debug.

In addition, integration with MathWorks' Simulink simulation environment enables more rapid deployment of virtual hardware-in-the-loop testing.

"The tight integration of our TRACE32 debugger with the latest Virtualizer release includes mutual support for the industry-standard Multi-Core Debug API, giving software programmers a unified and efficient environment for multicore debug and analysis," said Stephan Lauterbach, General Manager at Lauterbach. "This integration enables engineers to start software development early in the design cycle on virtual prototypes without having to switch to other debug tools as they transition to real hardware."

The model authoring interface in the new Virtualizer tool set simplifies and automates model creation with new features such as automatic design rule checking and design-sensitive help, improving modeling productivity for both virtual prototyping experts as well as those less experienced. The new tool release also enables users to import existing IP specifications in popular formats such as IP-XACT, Excel, Word and PDF, further speeding model development by automatically generating SystemC Modeling Library (SCML) constructs and industry-standard Accellera Systems Initiative TLM-2.0 bus interfaces.

In addition to providing improved model creation capabilities, Virtualizer continues to support direct integration of TLM-2.0 standard-based models of common IP blocks readily available in the market, including Synopsys' DesignWare TLM Library models, ARM Fast Models, and other SystemC TLM models available from the company. It also supports more than 900 system-level models that can be found on TLM Central.

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