Design Con 2015

Intel bets on Linux with cross-platform x86 tool suite

February 28, 2013

Bernard Cole-February 28, 2013

Intel Corp. is continuing its push into embedded systems with an open source Linux-based tool suite for its family of embedded processors.

The Intel System Studio tool kit will allow developers to use the same design environment whether they are developing X86 applications on the company’s Atom, Core and Xeon processors as well as various Intel-based SoCs.

Announced at Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany, the suite includes profilers, debuggers, code analysis tools and optimized compilers for Linux apps.

The suite includes the Intel VTune Amplifier, JTAG Debugger, Intel Inspector and Intel C/C++ compilers, plus the GNU Debugger (GDB) along with Intel's Integrated Performance Primitives algorithmic building blocks for media and data apps and Math Kernel Library packages for performing highly vectorized and threaded linear algebra, Fast Fourier transformations and statistics functions.

Also included is Intel Cilk Plus extensions for C and C++ that optimize code for multi-threaded applications and parallel systems.

What will make this really attractive to developers of embedded systems is that the company has taken its VTune Amplifier profiling tools and added features that will allow designers to tweak their designs for power optimization and efficiency.

The VTune analyzer allows developers to look closely at SoC events to analyze CPU and GPU activities related to power and performance. A power profiler identifies causes of wake-up, application-triggered timers and other events that can lead to power loss.

VTune’s performance profiler identifies hardware events with call stacks and identifies hotspots in small functions. Requiring little processor overhead, the tool requires no code instrumentation, with results shown in source code or assembly language.

For developers who need an even closer look at the underlying hardware activities, the tool suite includes the Intel JTAG Debugger and GDB Debugger modules, which displays register descriptions of the CPU, SoC and chipsets. In addition, a software event tracing framework also provides source-level debugging of the Linux kernel BIOS, UEFI, firmware and system drivers.

Part of the suite, the Intel Inspector module is a static and dynamic code analyzer that can pinpoint memory and threading defects; memory leaks and invalid access; and code that can result in data races and deadlock conditions. The tool also supports remote connections and debugger breakpoints, and it can break on selected errors.

Intel System Studio has been tested on Fedora versions 14 through 18, openSUSE 12.1, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 (SP4) and 11 (SP2), and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, 11.04, 11.10 and 12.04 LTS.

If you are doing development using the open-source Eclipse CDT (C/C++ Development Tooling), the suite's compiler, debuggers and libraries have been configured to integrate smoothly and in some cases install mnaturally, and in some cases install automatically.

Tested target operating environments and distributions include Fedora 14, Wind River Linux 5, Yacoto Project 1.2 and 1.3 and other Linux distributions that support the real-time scheduler and use kernel 2.6.2 and 3.x.x (up to 3.3.x). In addition to support for all platforms using Intel Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 and Intel Xeon processors, the tools also support Intel Atom D2xxx, N2xxx, D5xxx, D4xx, E6xx, N4xx, N3xx, N2xx, Z5xx and CExxx series processors.

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