Arm have announced its first complete portfolio of IP targeting the autonomous market. Offering scalable, safety-enabled heterogeneous compute, this IP drives the market towards a world of intelligent autonomous vehicles and other machinery. But this IP is only a part of a very complex puzzle. The software required to implement such intelligence is also growing exponentially. This growth is not only from the increase of integrated functionality, but also on the required requirement of ever more rigorous testing. Arm, with our vast ecosystem of partners, can provide you with a complete development solution to accelerate your designs to the next level.
Virtual platforms are simulated implementations of your final silicon and system designs. With Arm Fast Models, we provide a library of models of Arm IP, to enable these virtual platforms to be constructed. Developed in parallel with the IP, and put through as much validation as the actual IP itself, Arm Fast Models are the most reliable solution for this purpose. Beginning with an Architecture model, Arm uses these functionally accurate models internally to assist with design decisions of the final CPU implementation, and to verify that the design is working correctly. From there, a model of the final CPU can be derived from that model, considering system level features, such as caches, and other interfaces. As a result, an Arm Fast Model of a new CPU can be available even earlier than the final RTL of the IP. This means that your software teams can start working with this significantly ahead of any implementation in emulation or beyond. It will therefore come as no surprise to say that Arm Fast Models for Cortex-A78AE are available today.
To build your virtual platform, you can select the desired IP components from the library. By stitching them together within the provided System Canvas environment, you can create a complete system model on which you can run your code on. The easy to use GUI allows you to quickly make changes to configuration (for example, change cache sizes on CPUs) and see the effect they have on your code performance. As the name implies, Arm Fast Models execute at a very high effective clock rate, typically in the 10s - 100s MHz range, unlike typical emulation speed in the 10-100 kHz range. This greatly helps with the productivity of the engineers developing the code.
For a deeper discussion of the capabilities of Arm Virtual Platforms, please see this whitepaper.
The lifetime of virtual platforms is not limited to the early stages of the design. As stated previously, the models are validated to the same level as the IP. You can be confident that any tests designed to run on the final system behaves in the same manner on a virtual platform of the system.
As virtual entities, they can be instantiated by your testing and validation, or continuous integration environments automatically. This allows for very many tests to be run in parallel (by running multiple platforms in parallel), and can easily be replicated. Testing based primarily on real hardware can be cumbersome to manage and maintain, but this problem disappears with virtual platforms. For more information on Arm solutions for Continuous Integration methodologies, please see this YouTube video.
Fast Models are built with industry standard System C interfaces, and are supported by all the major EDA solutions. Working with these partners, our customers can have access to further tooling options, as well as other IP portfolios that may need to be integrated to the virtual platform. For more information on solutions from some of our key partners, such as Cadence, Synopsys, Mentor, ASTC, please visit their websites.
With your development platform prepared, you can now start creating software for that platform. A part of Arm Development Studio, the Arm Compiler is the first to be optimized to support the Cortex-A78AE. It has support for the latest C and C++ standards, and has been used in safety critical applications for many years, with a safety qualified version of the compiler also available. Working with our ecosystem partners, deployment of standards compliant software stacks can be integrated to your system, and built with the compiler.
The powerful multi-core capable Arm Debugger offers full visibility into the behavior of your code to help ensure functional correctness. We also work with the leading organizations in test and validation, with companies such as LDRA and Vector providing code coverage and standards checking tools to use with your code.
The complete scope of the software, from both the CPU and GPU point of view, can be analyzed with the Arm Streamline performance analyzer. This intuitive tool enables developers to partition workloads appropriately by understanding overall behavior of their applications, with highly granular data due to statistical profiling support.
With the new AE products, Arm helps the industry take the next big step into the world of safer, autonomous technology. But a system is more than just a collection of IP. Ever more complex, ever more scrutinized software is the key barrier to get to market with a viable end product. The Arm Development Solutions Group are working to overcome this with our own proprietary solutions as well as those of our highly valued ecosystem partners. To find out more of how Arm can help you, please reach out to our development tool solutions team who can advise on your particular needs.