X86 emulation coming to ARM processors

October 03, 2012

Bernard Cole-October 03, 2012

San Francisco, Ca. – Russian engineers working at Elbrus Technologies are developing software to run x86 programs on ARM-based servers.

If successful, the software could help lower one of the biggest barriers ARM SoC makers face getting their chips adopted as alternatives to Intel x86 processors that dominate today’s server market. And in addition to giving Microsoft some help in running its primarily x86 based software on ARM-based tablets and smart phones, the emulator could also offer new choices to embedded developers.

Elbrus Technologies emulation software that currently delivers 40 percent of native ARM performance, but the company believes it could reach 80 percent native ARM performance or greater by the end of 2014. The team that developed the softwar will present a paper on its work at the ARM TechCon in Santa Clara, Calif., Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

The emulation software currently requires no more than 1 MByte of memory space which uses a a binary translator that acts as an emulator, but the company is currently working on an optimization to improve both performance and memory footprint that the company plans to have ready by the end of 2014.

The Elbrus Tech software uses a parallel compilation process which stores translations in volatile memory to decrease overhead when starting up and which has several levels of optimization for 'cold' and 'hot' regions of code.

Elbrus Technologies is funded by $1.3 million in investment capital from the Russian investment fund Skolkovo and MCST, a veteran Russian processor and software developer. MCST also is providing developers for the project.

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