A press released went through this morning that I would normally not have bothered with too much. While it was from Mentor, it was from their embedded division and normally I leave that to the embedded folks to cover. But I saw the word virtual prototype and so decided that there may be something in there for me. And I normally don’t bother reading the quotes because when they come from a customer they have often been words crafter by the company and put into the mouth of the customer. Even worse are quotes from the company itself, except I liked part of this quote from a Mentor person “Asking a software designer to use a hardware design tool is like asking a plumber to install your sink with an electrician’s wire cutters”. I like that analogy.
So, I read on. They state that “most software developers will not adopt hardware design tools even if they have been enhanced and/or interfaced to software tools.” Further on they continue “the traditional EDA industry approach has seen limited success by attempting to modify hardware tools for use by software developers.” I thought about that for quite a while. The immediate reaction is to say – well of course they would say something like that – they want to discredit competitive tools from other EDA companies. While that may be true, Mentor also has quite a long track record of trying that path itself and so it really has seen both sides of that fence.
When I speak to anyone about the value of ESL tools today, and virtual prototypes in particular, I am told that the biggest user of them and the greatest beneficiary are the embedded software folks. Most of these tools tend to stay away from, or be agnostic about, the SW tool chain and allow the SW folks to use whatever tool chain they want for the processor(s). Perhaps Mentor is seeing a different set of people where it is the SW team making the buying decisions because Mentor has sales people who get to these folks rather than the traditional EDA sales that would be talking to the HW teams and they are perhaps buying the tools for the SW folks.
I know that most of my audience here on the EDA Designline are HW folks, but I was wondering what you thought about this. It is an interesting question and I will probably dig into this deeper.
– keeping you covered
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Here is the release text for those who are interested.
WILSONVILLE, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mentor Graphics Corporation (NASDAQ: MENT) today announced release of the Mentor® Embedded Sourcery™ CodeBench Virtual Edition product, a native software environment for developing embedded systems pre- and post-silicon. Now, ever-expanding teams of software developers can remain in their core development environment and develop, debug, and optimize their complete software stack on virtual prototypes and emulation platforms, before and after first silicon.
“Software development and hardware development are deeply intertwined, yet intensely unique disciplines. Asking a software designer to use a hardware design tool is like asking a plumber to install your sink with an electrician’s wire cutters,” said Glenn Perry, general manager of Mentor Graphics Embedded Software Division. “It’s critical to respect the uniqueness of each discipline and we believe our Sourcery CodeBench Virtual Edition delivers a true native software environment that deeply leverages our hardware design tool technology.”
The Sourcery CodeBench technology is the leading development toolchain and integrated development environment (IDE) for embedded Linux development, which is now the de facto standard reference operating system (OS) on all SoCs. The Sourcery CodeBench Virtual Edition product embeds the most advanced pre-silicon technology available from the hardware design tool flow, deeply into the native software environment. This yields a significant time-to-market advantage for software development teams by eliminating the valuable time and effort spent learning unfamiliar traditional hardware design tools. The Sourcery CodeBench Virtual Edition tool goes beyond enabling software development ahead of silicon to offer unprecedented visibility into hardware/software interactions, otherwise unavailable through the limited debug interfaces in actual hardware.
True Native Software Environment – The Key Differentiation
Mentor’s 15-year investment in embedded software has yielded findings concurring that most software developers will not adopt hardware design tools even if they have been enhanced and/or interfaced to software tools. After acquiring CodeSourcery in 2010, Mentor Graphics modified the leading embedded development environment by embedding hardware design intelligence directly into the native environment. Conversely, the traditional EDA industry approach has seen limited success by attempting to modify hardware tools for use by software developers.
IP and SoC suppliers can speed time-to-market for their downstream customers by providing embedded software development capability, including software development kits (SDKs), before silicon. The same native software development environment can then be used downstream in the design flow alongside virtual platform representations provided by systems companies and OEMs to design and develop embedded systems ahead of silicon availability. Embedded developers can simply transition to actual hardware with the same Sourcery CodeBench native development environment.
Early Software Integration is Critical
By bringing software integration into the early pre-silicon phases, the Sourcery CodeBench Virtual Edition speeds product delivery and improves hardware and system quality. This helps ensure hardware is tuned and optimized to the end-application, and that the software is ported and integrated efficiently. Such deep visibility enables post-silicon bug tracking that is impossible to identify with physical boards. Relevant capabilities of this edition include:
• Non-intrusive visibility and tracing for memory-mapped registers and deep hardware states, including CPU internals, memories, cache and fetch sequences
• Tightly controlled system execution, such as stopping all system clocks instantly, and cross debugging hardware and software execution
• Trace and debug of complex hardware/software interactions deterministically with the ability to set breakpoints on any software or hardware object
• Simulation APIs with semi-hosting and direct access to the target file system for host-target file transfers
• API and backdoor access for testability and non-intrusive software code injection
Sourcery CodeBench and Sourcery Analyzer for Fast System Analysis
The Sourcery CodeBench Virtual Edition environment includes the Sourcery Analyzer tool to quickly visualize and analyze system data. This product provides application and kernel level insight and supports a broad array of time-stamped data formats such as the Linux Trace Toolkit (LTTng). By visually showing how processor cores and system resources are being used, it enables embedded developers to quickly identify bottlenecks in order to debug or decode these problems. By applying trace points anywhere in the application, developers can visually identify the critical section of software code impacting system performance.
The Sourcery CodeBench Virtual Edition product is integrated with the Mentor Graphics® Vista™ platform for early abstract functional models of the hardware even before the hardware design is implemented in register transfer level (RTL). The Vista platform supports industry standard SystemC/TLM 2.0 virtual prototypes and QEMU machine emulators.
The new Mentor Embedded Sourcery CodeBench Virtual Edition is available now for evaluation. Contact your local Mentor Graphics representative or call 800-547-3000. For information on this product and to register for a webinar to learn more visit : http://www.mentor.com/embedded-software/sourcery-tools/sourcery-codebench/virtual-edition.