Coinciding with the Fall 2013 release of our Sourcery CodeBench embedded software development tools, Mentor Graphics is making available a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 Vista Virtual Prototype Simulator. The simulator will be available for free to our Professional Edition customers, boots Mentor Embedded Linux, and works seamlessly with Sourcery CodeBench to provide a debug experience free from embedded hardware.
What is a hardware simulator? A hardware simulator is software that provides the illusion of real hardware to the software layers above it, like the OS and application layers.
Your operating system and application run on the simulator without necessarily knowing the difference between the simulator and real embedded hardware. Combined with Sourcery CodeBench, this simulator enables embedded software developers to get work done without the cost or hassle of real hardware.
I once ran an embedded board lab and I do not miss it one bit. If we had received only robust, easy to use and well documented boards that were 100% remote management friendly, I would have less grey hair on my head now. Instead we would occasionally receive unreliable boards that provided no easy way to perform tasks as simple and routine as remote power cycling and remote kernel upgrades. Or they ran hot. Or their serial ports would be non-standard in one of many ways. A cocktail napkin with “8n1 115200″ hand written in smeared ink would sometimes be the only documentation I would receive, if any. Or the one-of-a-kind board would simply die without warning, during a critical testing run, never to run again. Any hardware fault I could not recover from remotely would mean driving to the board lab, sometimes in the middle of the night, then pressing a button or pulling the board completely and trying to revive it back to health.
That said, there is no substitute for finishing embedded development on real embedded hardware. But during early stage development, your software engineers may thank you for using embedded hardware simulators for much of the development effort.
Visit our Multi-Core Linux Application Debug using Sourcery CodeBench Professional for ARM GNU/Linux tutorial for a hands-on example of the Vista Virtual Prototype Simulator in action.
To learn more about our embedded software platforms, tools and services visit mentor.com/embedded.