Why today's virtual platforms aren't the answer

A Viewpoint by Larry Lapides, Imperas

We’ve been hearing for a while now that virtual platforms are the answer to system-on-chip (SoC) embedded software development problems. But, what can yesterday’s virtual platforms –– hardware virtual platforms that run at 20 MIPS top speed and cannot handle multicore architectures without slowing down another 10X –– do for embedded software development?

If these hardware virtual platforms were the answer to software development problems, companies providing this technology would be doing quite well. But this technology has failed to address the real needs of end users. Why hasn’t the technology lived up to its potential? Is it due to lack of speed and model interoperability, or insufficient infrastructure to tackle growing system-on-chip (SoC) complexity, or proprietary languages? Let’s include SystemC in the list of proprietary languages, because language “flexibility” coupled with a lack of results from SystemC committees has resulted in different flavors of SystemC for each and every user.

SoC embedded software development teams want to know how they can make the software verification process more efficient, more complete, more predictable and more measurable. This is the challenge platform vendors should be addressing. The answer is that verification, debug and analysis combined with a verification methodology, and built specifically for embedded software development, can do that.

This focus on verification is...

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