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Wind River enhances hardware-assisted debug tools

Apr 2, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Wind River has updated its tools for on-chip, hardware-assisted debugging of embedded processor-based systems. Workbench 2.6.1 “On-chip Debugging Edition” boasts enhanced support for multi-core processors, compatibility with the latest Linux kernels, and several additional tools said to simplify the debugging process, among other new features, according to the company.

Workbench 2.6 is Wind River's Eclipse-based suite of development and debugging tools that work with Linux, as well as its proprietary VxWorks RTOS (real-time operating system). Workbench On-chip Debugging (OCD) Edition works in tandem with hardware debug tools, such as the company's own “Wind River JTAG Probe” and “Wind River ICE” (in-circuit emulator).

JTAG and ICE hardware tools enable Workbench OCD to debug Linux kernels and (as of December's v2.6 release) user-space Linux applications without adding software “instrumentation,” such as break points, kernel agents, and so on. Instead, the hardware tools exploit the debugging interfaces built into modern microprocessors in order to step through applications, or view kernel and application context.


Enhanced functionality in Workbench OCD 2.6.1, according to Wind River, includes:

  • Enhanced multicore debugging — newly supported processors include several Broadcom MIPS64 “Sibyte” family chips, Intel's XScale IOP 342, Freescale's MPC8641D Rev 2.0, and PA Semi's PA6T-1682M; additionally up to 128 cores can be connected on a single scan chain, through JTAG, and up to eight devices can be simultaneously debugged
  • Support for sharing a single ICE (in-circuit emulator) unit across networks of multiple developers
  • Support for the newest and Wind River Linux kernels, including “the ability to debug the Linux kernel, user applications, and shared libraries, without kernel instrumentation.”
  • Improved usability, with new “Views” aimed at speeding up target connection and simplifying management

New tools

In addition to the aforementioned enhancements, the 2.6.1 update adds several new tools that aim to make the debugging processor more efficient. The company describes these as:

  • Quick Target Launch tool — helps developers define cross-target launches, enabling the user to select from a list of predefined launches, either taking control of an already running target, or starting a target from reset; this “results in the user quickly moving from target launch selection to debugging complex hardware and software problems”
  • Launch Configuration tool — guides developers through configuration options, resulting in an “efficient, streamlined, and intuitive” workflow
  • Binary Upload tool — lets developers graphically select memory areas on the device — including flash memory sectors — for image upload into a file on their PC
  • Compare tool — lets developers diff a selected area of memory on their device with a file on the host PC or network

Multi-processor support responds to three key challenges

Sandy Orlando, Wind River's general manager of on-chip debugging, explained that Workbench OCD 2.6.1's new multi-processor capabilities were developed in response to three common challenges faced by the company's customers:

  • How do I simply visualize and manage the processors, with four, six, or eight processors, particularly multi-core processors?
  • How do I leverage my emulator technology to manage more than one type of processor, and different OSes, when debugging multicore in AMP (asynchronous multi-processor) systems?
  • How do I scale to handle all those cores, when physically connecting the debugger can introduce delay or sync problems that actually compound bugs?

The v2.6.1 release brings Workbench's existing project management facilities to bear on the problem of system visualization and management, helping “users manage multiple targets, with color-coded context for each core,” Orlando explained.

With respect to leveraging emulator technology and supporting multiple processors and OSes, WorkBench's existing support for both VxWorks and Linux helps here, allowing the IDE to logically represent multiple OSes, according to Orlando. “You want emulator technology to handle different target firmware, and the whole debugging solution to allow you to be able to debug different OSes,” she said.

With regard to the final challenge — scalability — Orlando added, “Through JTAG, we can connect up to 128 cores on a single scan chain, and debug up to eight cores simultaneously. We use [an un-named] patent-pending technology that minimizes the latency associated with going through all of those cores.”

“[We] offer customers a rich set of Eclipse-based development tools that allow them to harness the full advantages today's hardware innovations offer, including multicore and multiprocessing technologies,” Orlando concluded.


Wind River WorkBench 2.6.1 OCD is available now. In addition to the new multi-core chips mentioned above, the toolsuite also supports a several ARM processor cores, and various SoCs (system-on-chip processors) from ATMEL, Broadcom, Freescale, Intel, and PA-Semi.

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