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Tool enables designers to generate fast virtual prototypes

Posted: 28 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ARM? RealView System Generator?

ARM recently announced its RealView System Generator tool, a tightly integrated member of the RealView series of tools, which promises to enable platform providers to rapidly generate, by themselves, instruction-accurate virtual prototypes that are scalable, reusable and fast enough to interact with in real time.

"Virtual platforms that provide the software developer with an early view of the hardware and peripherals represent a big step forward in the ongoing push toward concurrent development of the entire system," said Daya Nadamuni, VP of Gartner Dataquest. "Because a high-level representation of the hardware allows application development to begin much earlier in the design cycle, software developers can explore different options, test and verify the product and still hit the market window."

The new system generator promises hardware and software engineers alike the power to create and modify their own system models, which keeps NRE costs under control and protects unique IP by dispensing with third-party consultancies. The speed of the generated virtual prototypes is said to be comparable to the speed of currently available mobile devices, making it possible to test application software as it will appear on the end device, months before hardware is available.

"For a highly differentiated consumer electronics product to succeed, electronics vendors need a way to generate application software, perform testing of hardware and application software integration and validate the end-user experience as early as possible," said Bryn Parry, general manager for development systems, ARM. "The RealView System Generator tool provides a target early in the design cycle that enables these tasks, and is easy to deploy."

According to ARM, silicon vendors, OS or software vendors or system OEMs working with SoC- or ASIC-based systems benefit from the new system generator tool because it enables application software development in parallel with hardware development, thus reducing integration time. Creative professionals, such as application engineers, artists and designers developing multimedia content, can use the virtual platforms created in the new system generator to accelerate development and validate the user experience.

Ease of use
The RealView System Generator tool is operated through a drag-and-drop graphical user interface familiar to users of the RealView SoC designer tool. The tool enables users to rapidly create and deploy complete virtual prototypes constructed from a library of ARM processors and key peripherals, said ARM, such as the LCD, keyboard and communication interfaces typically found in consumer electronics devices. Software developers can also use the tool to rapidly build their own IP models that can be added to the library of drag-and-drop components.

The developer also benefits from an integrated flow between the new system generator and other tools in the RealView family, such as compilers, debuggers and SystemC tools. This enables software for specific components to be run and tested on models written at different levels of abstraction. Through a common debug environment, the same software can also be tested on FPGA prototypes, such as those built from RealView development boards, and on final silicon.

High-speed ARM-certified models
The RealView System Generator tool's virtual prototypes are based around the only certified high-speed models of ARM IP, which include support for the TrustZone hardware-based security technology and Jazelle Java acceleration technology. The virtual prototypes also enable development of user software policies for the ARM Intelligent Energy Manager technology, the company said, which allows applications to reduce the power consumed in mobile devices. Compelling content, such as 3D games, are essential for product success, and these models, which can boot an open OS such as Linux in a few seconds, provide the speed and instruction-accuracy required to test the content without the costs associated with real device testing, ARM explained.

The system generator tool will be available in September 2006. The first version includes fast processor core models for the ARM926EJ-S, ARM1136JF-S and ARM1176JZF-S processors, as well as for a number of ARM PrimeCell peripherals.

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