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Imperas delivers simulation models for MIPS CPU cores

24 Nov 2014

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Imperas Software Ltd rolled out the Extendable Platform Kits (EPKs) for MIPS CPU cores from Imagination Technologies.

These EPKs for MIPS, available for download from the Open Virtual Platforms (OVP) website, are designed to provide a base for users to run high-speed simulations of MIPS-based SoCs and platforms on any suitable PC. They are based on the functionality of Imagination's MIPS FPGA evaluation platforms, enabling anyone to simulate MIPS-based systems using Imagination's reference platforms. EPKs provide a base for users to extend the functionality of the virtual platform, to closer reflect their own platform, by adding more component models, running different operating systems or adding additional applications.

EPKs are virtual platforms (simulation models) of the target devices, including the processor model(s) for the target device plus enough peripheral models to boot an operating system or run bare metal applications. The platform and the peripheral models included in the EPKs are open source, so that users can easily add new models to the platform as well as modify the existing models.

There are two generic flavours of the EPKs for MIPS, one targeting full operating systems, such as Linux, and one which focuses on Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS) such as Mentor Nucleus. OVP models of the MIPS processor cores are included in the EPKs, and for those MIPS processors which support multiple cores, SMP Linux is supported for that EPK. For all of these initial EPKs for MIPS, many of the peripheral components of the platform are modelled, including the Ethernet component. The semi-hosting capability of the Imperas virtual platform simulator products enables connection via the Ethernet component from the EPK to the real world via the x86 host machine.

"These EPKs can provide a quick start for the many MIPS users exploring new cores and multi-processor system architectures. They can also help with OS bring-up and porting firmware, drivers and applications to new silicon platforms," said John Min, director of processor technology marketing for Imagination.

EPKs require a simulator to run, either the OVPsim simulator from or one of the Imperas simulator products. The Imperas simulator products also include the iGen platform and model productivity tool, which helps users to build both platforms and peripheral models. For peripheral models, users enter port and register information into iGen, which then generates the model architecture and also generates both OVP (C language) and SystemC/TLM2.0 (C++) interfaces for the model. Using iGen helps to ensure the development of high quality, high performance models in the minimum amount of time.

While OVPsim and the Imperas simulator products are very fast, running at 100s of millions of instructions per second, additional speed can be achieved for virtual platforms, which include multiple processor instances, multi-core processors and processors that support hardware multi-threading.

The Imperas QuantumLeap parallel simulation accelerator is an add-on to the Imperas simulator products. Its MPonMP (MultiProcessor target on MultiProcessor host) technology enables the simulator to take advantage of the multiple x86 cores in the host machine. This can result, for example, in an increase in performance of 2.25x for a 4-core virtual platform with SMP architecture running on a 4-core host PC.

"Building and using a virtual platform can be a daunting task the first time through the process," said Simon Davidmann, CEO of Imperas. "With the EPKs we are providing both a template for building models and extending the platform, as well as already running operating systems to help the software engineers. EPKs include all you need to run, work out of the box and can be used for embedded software development right from the download."

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