TI's Code Composer Studio IDE goes "platinum" for multiprocessor designs - Embedded.com

TI’s Code Composer Studio IDE goes “platinum” for multiprocessor designs


New Software Tools From TI Simplify Multi-Platform Development In a Single IDE and Offer New Features to Reduce Debug Frustration

New Rewind and Connect/Disconnect Features Simplify Debugging, Reduce Frustration and Speed Time to Market

Houston — With development tools continuing to grow in importance when choosing a processor platform, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE:TXN) raises the bar for digital signal processing (DSP) software development tool features and robustness by announcing the release of the Platinum Edition of its Code Composer Studio (CCStudio) Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

The new CCStudio Platinum Edition provides a single IDE that supports multiple TI platforms in one installation and at the same cost as a single platform, saving DSP original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) significant time and expense in the design of multiprocessor, multi-platform applications.

The Platinum Edition also makes code debugging less frustrating by introducing two new features that can save developers significant time when tracking down pervasive bugs. The CCStudio Rewind feature, a DSP industry first, allows programmers to back-step through their source code with a single keystroke, while the new Connect/Disconnect feature enables developers to “hot swap” a target board in seconds to eliminate hardware suspects during debug.

Platinum Edition Merges All Platforms Into One Easy-to-Use IDE
Many DSP applications today are growing to hundreds of thousands of lines of code with on-board support for multiple processors. These complex systems are often based on multiple DSP processors and platforms in order to achieve the necessary scale of operations. In the past, developers using multiple DSP platforms normally had to maintain multiple toolsets for their designs. TI's new CCStudio Platinum Edition simplifies this process by offering a fully merged IDE supporting all TI platforms, including the TMS320C6000 DSP, TMS320C5000 DSP, TMS320C2000 DSP and OMAP platforms.

This high level of multiplatform support means a reduced investment for developers, who now have all the tools they need available at a single low purchase price. The IDE can be installed at one time for all platforms, and its integration simplifies tool maintenance and updates. Developers also benefit from parallel debug capabilities for interprocessor visualization, as well as simplified migration of software from one TI DSP platform to another under a common IDE.

Rewind: Innovative New Solution for Debugging Complex Code
Analysts estimate that programmers have to spend more than 60 percent of their project time debugging code, slowing the development cycle in the tedious process of hunting for and fixing software bugs. Rewind, the newest feature in CCStudio Platinum Edition, addresses this problem by providing a solution for greatly reducing the amount of time spent in debug mode.

In the past, developers were forced to go back to the beginning and retrace program steps in order to find problems in source code. With Rewind, the world's first DSP software technology of its kind, developers can easily move both forward and backward within their source code. This capability allows developers to stop at any point using a single back-step keystroke, thus effectively eliminating the need to reload and step through a program from the beginning to find code errors. Rewind keeps a complete history of execution made by normal step and run commands; then it permits the developer to view the program state and run code at earlier points in the program.

The feature has no associated overhead, so it doesn't slow down the simulation as it records execution of the application. Operating on information stored during normal routines, Rewind allows developers to quickly return to the problem area of the program and fix its operation, taking an enormous amount of frustration and time out of the debug process.

Another new capability that eliminates tedious restart sequences is Connect/Disconnect, which gives developers the capability to disconnect from the hardware target and restore the previous debug state when connecting again. When hardware and software are being debugged simultaneously, it is not uncommon for the software application to lose connection with the target board.

This new feature in the Platinum Edition now makes it easier to connect and disconnect with the target system dynamically. Developers can replace a suspect board with a known good board during the debug session, eliminating the hardware as a potential source of errors and narrowing the focus to the software application. Connect/Disconnect eliminates tens of minutes from repeated reset and restart sequence each time a failure is encountered, saving tremendous time and frustration for developers.

“Rewind and Connect/Disconnect both focus on eliminating downtime. Waiting for a restart sequence when developers are deep into a debug session can feel like an eternity. The CCStudio Rewind and Connect/Disconnect features get rid of that stress and accelerate the overall development timeline, helping speed time to market for end products,” said Lori Vidra, DSP tools product manager, TI.

CCStudio Platinum Edition Boosts Productivity Throughout the Design Flow
In addition to offering multi-platform support and the Rewind and Connect/Disconnect features, the Platinum Edition includes new and improved capabilities such as:

CodeWright Editor: Developers can now take advantage of the rich feature set of CodeWright, the industry's most popular editor now integrated in the CCStudio IDE when writing and debugging DSP code. CodeWright gives new developers the comfort of using a familiar tool, enabling them to become productive immediately with CCStudio.

Component Manager: A user can now upgrade the IDE to take advantage of new features and bug fixes while locking down on the specific compiler and DSP/BIOS software kernel foundation versions for the life of the program. The new component manager also lets the developer easily install and evaluate a new compiler or DSP/BIOS kernel version before committing to them in the project.

Tuning tools across all TI platforms: Available now on all TI platforms, CCStudio Tuning Edition includes tools that proactively review program code, track potential areas for improvement and offer suggestions to help programmers optimize system performance and memory usage. These powerful yet easy-to-use features speed development time and help programmers unleash the full potential of TI's DSP platform devices.

Compiler updates across all TI platforms help improve cycle counts and code size, enabling developers to maximize their DSP performance.

Pricing and Availability
Available now, the CCStudio Platinum Edition IDE integrates everything programmers need for application development from start to finish, including reference frameworks, project manager, code generation tools, integrated CodeWright editor, fast simulators, DSP/BIOS Real-Time OS, debug and analysis tools, drivers and software libraries.

A single installation of the IDE covers all TI platforms, including the TMS320C6000 DSP, TMS320C5000 DSP, TMS320C2000 DSP and OMAP platforms. The CCStudio Platinum Edition is available for $3,600, including 15 months of update subscription service. A free 120-day evaluation version is available on CD-ROM at www.ti.com/ccstudioplatinumpr.

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Pop question: What's the single most important thing that designers look for when selecting a DSP? Apparently, rock-solid development tools presently head the list, beating out even key device parameters like price, performance, and on-chip memory. Taking that cue, garnered from the results of surveys and direct experience with its own customers, Texas Instruments has rolled out the Platinum Edition of its Code Composer Studio (CCStudio) integrated development environment (IDE) for its TMS320C6000 DSP, TMS32C5000 DSP, TMS320C2000 DSP and OMAP platforms.

Among the key features of CCStudio Platinum, as noted in the press release, are its support of multiple processors and two novel debugging functions: rewind and connect-disconnect. Other noteworthy capabilities include the adoption of the popular CodeWrite Editor, a component manager, parallel debugging capability, and tuning tools that optimize code to meet performance and memory usage goals . The IDE runs on Windows 2000 and Windows XP hosts.

R and R, as in robust and reliable
“When we talk to developers, what they care about is having a tool chain that is both robust and reliable,” says Lori Vidra, TI's DSP tools product marketing manager. “That means tools that are consistent; not flakey, not crashing, and not buggy.” To achieve these results, Vidra explains that, for example, TI writes its compilers in tandem with building the silicon, rather than after the fact. In this way, the compiler “truly understands the architecture of the device.”

Other tools of in CCStudio Platinum include an assembler, linker, project manager, editor, and analysis and profiler. “I think of an IDE as a box that brings together all of these components into one user interface and which are written with APIs so they can understand each other and interact,” says Vidra.

Support for multiple processors
The IDE's ability to handle multiprocessors is, according to TI, both a money and a time saver. “It's one tool chain, so it's easier to update and maintain,” says Vidra. “You don't have to buy separate IDEs for each family like you do for our competitors.” Also important to note is that the same multiprocessor support that includes TI's OMAP family of systems on silicon, which combines a TI DSP and an ARM processor, also applies to discrete approaches using the same devices. The multiprocessor focus also simplifies migration across several of TI's DSP families.

Rewind, connect, and disconnect
As noted in the press release, TI is claiming the IDE's rewind feature to be a first in the DSP world. With it, developers should be able to slash debugging time by moving easily, backward or forward, though their source code. The feature eliminates the need to reload a program and single step through it. Instead, rewind, which incurs no performance overhead, lets you go to any point in a program using a single back-step keystroke.

Another unique feature, connect-disconnect, eliminates the frustration caused by hardware and other failures that lock up a program without the IDE giving a clue as to the problem. “This feature works through the emulator to the board and looks for common problems, like a power outage or memory overrun,” says Vidra. “When it finds these, it reports them back to the IDE and gracefully handles them rather than freezing up the application on the host.” The same feature also lets you quickly and easily hot swap a bad board for a known good one without the hassle of rebooting or resetting of break points.

Parallel debug and tuning tools
Another key feature of the IDE, its parallel debug manager, comes into play when debugging applications for multiprocessor designs. Instead of opening and juggling a separate and independent debugging session for each processor, the manager lets you broadcast commands to, and synchronize, multiple DSPs by, for example, telling one to halt when another reaches a certain point.

The tuning tools that are part of the IDE are not new to TI&#151they were announced last year&#151but are nevertheless a noteworthy addition to it. These come into play when it's time to optimize your application code to take advantage of processor speed or fit the code into a particular memory footprint. “The tuning mode presents you with a dashboard that let you specify your goals,” says Vidra. “Then it goes through each section of code and advises you on how to optimize the code to meet those goals.”

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