Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ARM and Synopsys collaborate for Cortex-A57 virtual prototype

In late October last year, at ARM's TechCon event in Silicon Valley, ARM announced the first processor cores to be built with their next-generation 64-bit v8 architecture, the Cortex-A57 and Cortex A-53. Now, in order to enable early development of software in parallel with hardware development, Synopsys has announced the addition of the ARM v8 processors to their Virtualizer Development Kits (VDKs). Tom De Schutter, Senior Product Marketing Manager for System Level Solutions at Synopsys, says that the two companies have extended their collaboration agreement to include ARM's Fast Models for the v8 architecture.

Customers can use the VDK to boot-up operating systems, and to develop firmware and device drivers, prior to availability of silicon or FPGA hardware prototypes.The virtual models support analysis of multicore architectures, and provide developers with tools to optimize their code for maximum energy efficiency. Semiconductor companies can develop virtual models to provide to their customers for application development, without giving away any details of the chip design.For a complete SoC, users can combine Synopsys DesignWare IP models with the ARM core VDKs.

Synopsys and ARM are initially making Cortex-A57 virtual prototypes available, and the company's roadmap is to add the Cortex-A53 and support for the ARMv8 big.LITTLE methodology later. The emphasis at this point is still primarily on mobile device applications, with support for a Linux kernel and the Android operating system on the virtual platform. Schutter says that some of Synopsys' customers are using the virtual models to develop Windows on ARM, but that is not an out-of-the-box solution. The VDK supports use of ARM's debugger, along with tools from Lauterbach and GNU.

Synopsys made no mention of development of VDKs for ARM server applications, and is initially targeting customers who will be migrating from the ARM v7 32-bit architecture. The company is doing some initial exploration of server-type applications, says Schutter, such as utilizing Ethernet-connected VDKs to develop communications and network interfaces between multiple ARM-based processors.

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