The introduction of a new architecture as significant as ARMv8, or AArch 64, requires careful consideration of the impact to existing software! The good news is, the new architecture is compatible with previous generations of the ARM® architecture, and the ARM Cortex™-A50 series of processors can execute older code. However, to take full advantage of the new features of AArch 64, software will need to be re-targeted for this new architecture. Of course, this means a whole new tool chain — compiler, debugger, target device or board! Here's the first snag — general availability of a board usually depends on a device or SoC, however, for new architectures this can take a while.
I work a lot with teams designing new SoCs and the common issue cropping up is, "how can we start software ahead of silicon availability?" Fortunately, ARM Fast Models support the latest ARM technologies, and AArch64 is no exception. Our modelling engineers have been on the program throughout the design cycle of the architecture, helping to explore design decisions and ultimately supporting the creation of code generation and debug tools, validation suites and software porting activities such as boot code, hypervisors and kernels.
That's all great to get the basic development under way but remember, for fully fledged complex software development, a comprehensive debugger is needed to develop efficiently. Enter ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5™)toolchain for ARMv8— DS-5 has been developed against the models, and includes full architectural debug support. Check out this video introduction to see it in action.
If you can get access to an FPGA platform, or get on to an emulator, then the DS-5 toolchain has you covered there too, with seamless connections to hardware platforms using DSTREAM and emulation platforms using VSTREAM.
Software debug is already available with multi-cluster support for systems like ARM big.LITTLE™ processing, Linux kernel awareness and performance analysis. Users are now requesting complex trace and analysis on the virtual platforms. This is high on the product development list.
Sample devices are already planned for 2013 and will be fully supported by DS-5.
Oh, and by the way, the open source community is often vital for the success of a new architecture. ARM and Linaro have worked closely on open source tools and Linux ports, and of course the target platform... and yes, it was a virtual platform created with Fast Models. We have now made the Foundation Model platform available free of charge to all users so there's no holding you back!