Technical Report 2002-024

Time Accurate Simulation: Making a PC Behave Like a 8-Bit Embedded CPU

Jakob Engblom and Magnus Nilsson

July 2002


When developing embedded systems, developers often use simulation techniques to allow development to proceed without access to the target hardware. To make use of the high quality development tools available on the PC platform, one popular simulation method is to compile the code intended for the target system to run on the PC, allowing the development of the software to proceed on the PC without use of the final target system. For a distributed system, each target node is given its own process on the host PC, with software on the PC simulating the communications network.

We have extended one such simulation environment to include the aspect of relative and absolute processing speed of the target systems, allowing for a more accurate simulation where not only functional but also timing-related bugs can be found and diagnosed. The absolute time mode makes the software on the PC run at the same speed as the real target, thus allowing the mixing of simulated nodes with real target hardware in the same system setup. The method is applicable to any embedded processor, as long as it is significantly slower than the PC. The system has been implemented and tested on standard PCs running the Windows NT operating system, and is currently being used in industrial projects.

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