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Why is OS the hub of hardware emulator?

08 Apr 2015  | Lauro Rizzatti

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Still, emulators are subject to peculiarities inherent to hardware systems. Installing and testing an emulation platform may take days, which is a far cry from the minutes typically needed for a software application. Major upgrades and re-configurations follow the same pattern. Sometimes, a large company may elect to move the emulator to a different site, or maybe even to another continent. This would lead to a downtime of several weeks, if not a month or more.

Unlike software-based verification tools, emulators require maintenance that can be scheduled if preventive, such as system software upgrades, minor hardware replacements and re-configurations. It would cause unplanned downtime when corrective, such as hardware failures, A/C malfunctions and an electrical power breakdown.

Ideally, all of this should be taken into account by a hardware emulator's OS to enhance convenience, increase simplicity and amplify ROI.

Modern emulators

An OS protects application software from the hardware emulator.

Starting with the underling hardware, an OS should shield any version of the emulator—including any future generations—from the application software. Any applications, such as co-modelling, transaction-based verification, functional coverage and power analysis—along with any other application developed in the future, whether aiming at hardware verification, software testing or system validation—may run on any later generations of the emulator.

Additionally, an OS should enable enterprises to build an emulation data centre combining any generation of emulation platform to ensure highest ROI.

In a multi-user environment, the OS should administer the emulator resources efficiently and automatically and integrate with existing IT workload management solutions. Multiple concurrent jobs would be queued according to user priorities and resource availabilities, without bottlenecks stemming from oddities in the hardware architecture. Automatic job suspension (due to temporary unavailability of co-modelling resources or I/O targets, for example) and resumption would assure high efficiency.

Automatic relocation of jobs within the emulator resources to accommodate new jobs with larger capacity needs would increase the utilisation of the platforms. A dashboard ought to graphically report the queuing status of each job.

Equally as important, software upgrades, hardware re-configurations and all operations scheduled in the preventive maintenance would be simplified, thereby limiting the downtime of the emulator. Users would not need to be re-trained, and workflows and scripts would not need to be re-written since the OS would manage all operations automatically and transparently.

Moreover, machine data would be collected to provide analytics and graph historical and geographical usage.

These features and benefits would maximise the ROI on capital investments and make the development of a sophisticated OS a "must have" for hardware emulation.

One such OS is Veloce OS3—a new operating system supporting Mentor Graphics' Veloce emulation platform.

As my every three-year upgrade confirms, a laptop OS—like that of a hardware emulator's OS—must be able to support all version of application software.

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