Virtual Platform Leverages Development Across the Spectrum
Time to Market (TTM) is the most important parameter for the successful launch of a product.
It is an embedded developers dream to start development before new semiconductors are delivered. Recent advances in design tools and methodology brings virtual prototyping technology, to start development long before hardware is delivered. ASTC is one of the most advanced companies in the prototyping field. Ms. Holly Stump, VP Marketing at ASTC / VLAB Works, describes the beauty of virtual prototyping and the strength of the ASTC-Renesas partnership.
Virtual Prototyping Enables You to Start Software Development Even at Pre-Silicon Stage
— Please give us your company overview.
Ms.Stump: ASTC (Australian Semiconductor Technology Company) is a hardware and software design services and solutions company delivering semiconductor and systems design, embedded software development and other services. VLAB Works, a business subsidiary of ASTC, delivers innovative electronic system simulation and virtual prototyping solutions for embedded system and software developers. ASTC and VLAB Works serve global markets and supply chains for automotive, transportation, wireless, multimedia, and consumer electronics and embedded software.
A major business segment for us is automotive, comprising our partnership with Renesas and driving our virtual platform solutions. In this field software is the key challenge: Developing, testing and debugging millions of lines of code. Conforming with standards such as AUTOSAR and ISO26262. Starting to code embedded software early, before the actual hardware is available.
— To maximize productivity, what kind of products does ASTC offer?
Ms.Stump: To make the embedded software development process more efficient, a powerful technology is virtual prototyping with electronic system level (ESL) modeling. Our solution, the advanced VLAB virtual platform system, meets the challenge of developing vast amounts of embedded software. VLAB virtual prototypes deliver the advantages of full system simulation, with the performance necessary to execute code, operating at a higher level of abstraction. In addition to executing unmodified production code, VLAB platforms provide observability, controllability and greater visibility into program execution. This means that pre-silicon, software developers can start coding early, and software / hardware debug is accelerated, both pre-and post-hardware availability. VLAB also delivers other benefits and competitive advantage across the design chain…from semiconductor IP and SoC design, to hardware and systems development, extending to design re-use for downstream value chain partners (see Figure 1). There are other virtual platform providers in the industry; however, product features and company capabilities differentiate us.
Gain Huge Competitive Advantage Over Your Competitors By Using Virtual Platforms
— Could you describe the advantage of introducing virtual prototyping methodology for embedded device developers?
Ms.Stump: A company using the powerful technology of virtual prototyping with electronic system level (ESL) modeling, can gain these advantages:
- Perform hardware /software architecture validation, partitioning, exploration and “what-if” analysis including CAN functions, motor control, etc. Develop and implement algorithms. Run evaluation code for comparison.
- Accelerate embedded software development, before hardware is available: start software coding early, with confidence; find hardware and software bugs faster; reduce hardware evaluation board costs; modify and change platforms instantly. Comprehend hardware and software interaction for system debug, optimize hardware and software, and tune performance. Automate regression test for higher productivity; easy scalability.
- Leverage virtual platforms for design re-use to speed development for the first design, derivatives, product families, and future generations.
Once there is a virtual platform, it is like a snowball. Renesas and ASTC deliver a valuable virtual platform based on Renesas ICs and software. The developers add more content (hardware models, and software) and provide this larger model to their downstream partners, such as embedded software companies, who add software content and can deliver the larger model to Tier 1 companies, etc. This is a huge competitive advantage over a company that does not employ virtual platform. (see Figure 2)
”Admirable” Renesas Provides the Latest Technology
— Could you explain about business experiences with Renesas?
Ms.Stump: Renesas and VLAB Works have enjoyed a longstanding partnership, collaborating to develop, deliver and support models of many generations of Renesas devices. Renesas is a forward-thinking company and a pleasure to work with. It is admirable that Renesas provides the latest technology, such as virtual platforms, to their customers. The engineering staff is extremely talented. Also, the business managers and marketing group take great care to provide valuable information to their customers.
From AUTOSAR Software to ISO26262 Testing, the Platform Covers Entire Range of Development
— Could you elaborate on VLAB development tools for Renesas' Automotive MUC-RH850?
Ms.Stump: Let’s examine the VLAB virtual platform solution for Renesas’ RH850 MCUs. It comprises the VLAB virtual prototyping system, an RH850 MCU Virtual Platform Toolbox with RH850 virtual prototypes, and a wide selection of tools and capabilities for software and system development, debug, and analysis. The VLAB RH850 MCU Virtual Platform Toolbox supports the range of Renesas RH850 MCU variants, P1x, C1x, E1, F1x and others. It contains a comprehensive package of components; much more than just the virtual MCU model. This Toolbox includes extensive RH850 IP model libraries, with models of the RH850 IP blocks and pre-integrated and pre-validated netlists for selected MCU variants, as well as a reference virtual prototype, example target software scripts, and extensive documentation. Users of VLAB RH850 MCU virtual platforms can, import and add their own IP and ECU level models, develop their own ECU virtual prototype, debug and integrate with other tools, prepare their own system test bench, and bring up, debug and test the software for their applications, from low-level drivers through OS to ECU applications software.
Automotive system engineers can seamless replace RH850 hardware boards with RH850 virtual platforms, develop complex drivers and AUTOSAR software; and facilitate fault and coverage testing in support of safety standards. Automotive OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers can use VLAB to improve software development, decrease the cost of integrating and testing ECUs, and simplify the verification and validation of these embedded systems (see Figure 3).
— Thank you very much, Ms.Stump. We understand the power of virtual platforms with VLAB Works' products. We are confident that VLAB virtual platform will greatly enhance TTM and our customers' performance and efficiency.
Learn more about how automotive engineers can benefit from the virtual platforms and models produced through the partnership between VLAB Works and Renesas:
For a Renesas 850 Virtual Platform video demo:
For general information: