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Probe upgraded with Linux kernel analyzer

Apr 15, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 9 views

Semiconductor design firm MIPS Technologies is offering a kernel profiling tool that supports its EJTAG hardware probe. The Eclipse-based Hot Spot Analyzer (HSA) utility works with the company's FS2 System Navigator EJTAG probes, and can be used to debug Linux kernels running on MIPS-based SoCs.

(Click for larger view of the MIPS/FS2 System Navigator EJTAG probe)

The HSA utility leverages the “zero overhead” program counter (PC) sampling feature built into the 24K, 34K, and 74K MIPS32 core families, says the company. The utility can profile any code running in the kernel segment space of an embedded MIPS-based system, including “bare iron” programs or classic real-time operating system (RTOS) environments. It addition to kernel support it can profile loadable modules used in device drivers, and is said to enable software engineers to quickly identify program bottlenecks within the Linux kernel that restrict system performance.

MIPS 74K pipeline flow
(Click to enlarge)

Typically, profiling tools require time-consuming post-processing of large trace buffers or depend on tedious sampling tasks, says MIPS. By comparison, says the company, when running HSA, the System Navigator EJTAG probe can sample the processor PC register at high data rates without hindering the real-time operation of the processor, thereby enabling faster profiling.

Developed by a division of MIPS called First Silicon Solutions (FS2), the System Navigator supports all the latest MIPS cores and licensee processors in the MIPS32 and MIPS64 families. The hardware probe supports all the EJTAG features in MIPS cores, says MIPS, as well as PDtrace features in the processor implementation, when available.

The HSA is said to be integrated in the MIPS Navigator Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which offers industry-standard Eclipse-based CDT (C/C++ Development Toolkit) and plugins, says MIPS. It is also said to provide debugging support for all MIPS32 and MIPS64 cores, as well as on- and off-chip probe trace features.

Stated MIPS VP Rick Leatherman, “As with most issues in software debug, the problem is not fixing the bug but finding it. Because the stock Linux kernel is very complex and configurable, knowing exactly how it interacts with various applications is a challenge.”


The Hot Spot Analyzer is available now for System Navigator customers, says MIPS. It is sold as an Eclipse Plug-in or as part of the Navigator IDE. More information on the System Navigator probe may be found here, and more on the IDE may be found here.

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