My family are American, and this is a time of year when their thoughts turn towards the family and friends in the USA who are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. For me, late November also happens to coincide with the biannual release of Fast Models.
It has been a busy six months for the team who have been working on a wide and varied range of models, as well as new functionality and product enhancements. As you can infer from the the title, there has been a big emphasis on Cortex-M class models in this release cycle. Although the majority of Fast Model licensees are deploying them into platforms utilizing the Cortex-A models, there is a sizable contingent of users for the Cortex-M family as well. Cortex-M7 is the recently announced high-end micro-controller, whereas Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M0+ are more mature cores with very small footprints. From a modelling point of view they both leverage the new Cortex-M architecture model which will also form the basis of other new models to be announced in 2015.
There are several other new models being made available alongside this release, for Media and System IP products. These are available to lead partners, and will be in due course introduced to the standard portfolio.
Outside of the new models, the main focus for work in this release has been around performance improvements. There have been three aspects to this: improvements to the underlying simulation engine, improvements in the bridges to SystemC and improvements in the way that Fast Models interacts with the host workstation keyboard and mouse. The results of this work - and it's an ongoing task to maintain performance as the systems being simulated become more complex - will yield benefits for most partners and most applications.
We also added support for Visual Studio 2013 and gcc 4.7.2 as tool chains for building the simulation platforms. Leveraging newer compilers also provides performance improvements as they generate more optimal code.
Another area that has been worked on is on the link with the ARM DS-5 tool suite. The latest release of DS-5 (5.20) provides support for viewing trace information generated by a Virtual Platform with Fast Models.
2014 was a a busy year, both in product development and supporting the rapidly growing adoption of Virtual Prototypes as part of the SoC development process. Our ecosystem partners have continued to integrate Fast Models into their solutions in a variety of ways. One that has generated a lot of interest in 2014 has been "Hybrid" virtual platforms, otherwise known as co-emulation. In these a processor subsystem running in the virtual prototype is bridged to an emulator which is used to simulate other parts of the system. A typical scenario would be for platforms that have a GPU. The hybrid approach has yielded impressive performance gains for simulating these complex systems.
You can get an overview of what we are talking about here (a joint presentation with Cadence at the ARM TechCon last month): Reducing Time to Point of Interest With Accelerated OS Boot
Now have a moment or two to draw breath before diving into the development cycle for the 2015 releases. We have a full road map of new products to model, a focus on providing more hooks in the models for profiling the software running on them and of course, the ongoing performance work.