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Intel to acquire virtualization firm and embed software in Wind River

Feb 5, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 16 views

Intel has signed an agreement to acquire Virtutech, and Intel subsidiary Wind River will add the Virtutech product line, including its Simics virtualization and simulation software, to an embedded software product portfolio that already includes Wind River Linux. Intel's acquisition of Virtutech is expected to close this quarter, says Wind River.

Terms of the acquisition of San Jose, Calif. based Virtutech are not being disclosed, says Wind River, which itself was acquired by Intel last July. Founded in 1998, the privately-held Virtutech also operates a development center in Stockholm, Sweden.

Wind River will sell and support Virtutech's Simics development platform as a stand-alone product and will continue to support all current architectures, including ARM, Intel, MIPS, and PowerPC, says the company. Simics supports both Linux and Wind River's VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS), so it will likely be available for VxWorks as well as the Wind River Linux commercial distribution.

Introduced in 2002, the Linux-compatible Simics is a virtualized systems development (VSD) simulation platform that is widely used in multi-core processor and tools development. In July, Virtutech announced a new version that supports full-system checkpointing for SystemC-based transaction-level modeling (TLM), as well as support for multi-core RMI XLR MIPS64 and Tensilica Xtensa cores.

According to Michel Genard, Virtutech VP of marketing, in a July interview with LinuxDevices, over half of Virtutech's customers run Simics on Linux. The technology was also used by Wind River to develop its recently introduced Wind River Hypervisor (see architecture diagram below).

Wind River Hypervisor, simplified architecture

Simics is positioned as providing "whole board" simulation with "cycle-accurate" instruction-set emulation, for meaningful hardware evaluation as well as software evaluation. Simics is said to be capable of running unmodified production-quality binaries, and can be used with third-party software development tools.

Simics components include a model builder, model library, virtual debugging environment, Ethernet networking simulator, and Simics Accelerator (pictured below). The latter makes use of multiple host processor cores to accelerate the simulation of large target systems. Simics runs portions of the simulated system in parallel, without impacting the determinism, synchronous system stop, and well-defined semantics provided by regular Simics simulations, claims the company.

Simics Accelerator conceptual diagram

(Click to enlarge)

Simics does not require the OS to be paravirtualized — adapted to run on the simulated processor — and can run unmodified software from the driver, OS, stack, and application, says Virtutech. In our interview with Genard, he noted, "One reason Wind River chose Simics for developing its Hypervisor was that they wanted to support both Linux and VxWorks, and Simics is one of the few solutions that run independently of the target OS."

In processor simulation, Simics is primarily being used in the development of multi-core SoCs, due to their greater complexity, Genard said at the time. "Multi-core is one of the use cases where we have seen more interest in virtualization at the simulation level." he said. "Multi-core is also where we see the most promise for Simics. It's not only a driver to help customers deploy multi-core systems, but we are already seeing it as an enabler of development tools around multi-core."

Stated John Lambert, CEO, Virtutech, "Through our long-standing partnership with Wind River, it became evident that both companies shared a vision of how we can help the electronic systems market rethink how it goes about complex product development by deploying virtual platforms. By combining with Wind River, we now have the opportunity to dramatically accelerate the spread of this key market trend and to bring the benefits of virtual platforms to a broader audience."

More information on Virtutech may be found at its website, here.

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