What's keeping Accelerated Technology's engineers so busy? - Embedded.com

What’s keeping Accelerated Technology’s engineers so busy?


Mobile, Ala.—Accelerated Technology, a Mentor Graphics division (Nasdaq: MENT), today announced that its Eclipse-powered Nucleus EDGE software development environment is now available for the MIPS32 and MIPS64 architectures from MIPS Technologies. With the Nucleus software, developers using the 4K , 4KE, 5K and 24K core families for digital entertainment and multimedia applications have a tightly integrated development environment in which to more quickly and easily build products to better meet market demand.

“Our customers need to accelerate their time to market in order to excel in the highly competitive digital consumer space,” said Russ Bell, vice president of marketing for MIPS Technologies. “Leveraging the industry leading MIPS architecture and the Nucleus EDGE software environment allows designers to meet and exceed their development objectives and deliver superior products.”

“This new development environment consists of MIPS Technologies optimized software, including SDE compiler and MIPSsim instruction set simulator, integrated into the industry-standard Eclipse platform,” said Robert Day, director of marketing, Accelerated Technology Division, Mentor Graphics. “Combined with our Nucleus EDGE software, developers of MIPS-Based SoCs now get the most complete embedded tool chain, ranging from high-level UML design tools, down to advanced debugging and profiling tools, all working seamlessly together under the Eclipse framework.”

The Eclipse-based Nucleus EDGE software includes an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) that provides tutorials and demos to guide users through the development process. The user interface (UI) is also more responsive, permitting users to interact with the GUI while the Nucleus EDGE software is busy running background tasks such as building the user application. This is particularly useful when debugging large applications with multiple cores, as engineers typically focus on different parts of their application, concurrently.

The Nucleus EDGE software contains an advanced project manager, complete with an editor and builder that helps users automate their build process. Developers can now set up one or more build environments by specifying the compiler and build options, giving total control over multiple projects and allowing for quick and easy revisions of their embedded systems. This advanced build system is fully integrated with the MIPS SDE compiler, and allows other command line-based tools to be plugged in as well.

Adhering to the Eclipse platform debug paradigm, and hence offering ultimate openness, the Nucleus debugger provides developers with a number of debugging environments. For example, using host-based debugging, software developers can experiment by running an application on the host machine before the final hardware is available or even decided upon. This allows the software developer to start coding earlier in the development cycle. Utilizing the MIPSsim instruction set simulator and MDI based on-chip debugging via JTAG then allows users to run their “real” optimized embedded code from the same environment.

The Nucleus debugger also provides all the basic execution and memory control, plus advanced debugging features such as run-mode debug and kernel awareness when using a real-time operating system (RTOS). It also provides real-time trace, profiling, performance analysis, and code coverage for doing sophisticated code analysis. Additionally, the Nucleus debugger offers embedded developers true multi-core debugging, allowing them to fully debug their complete embedded system, whether small or complex.

For connectivity to MIPS Technologies' target markets, the Nucleus EDGE software supports the Meta Debug Interface (MDI) protocol, which allows additional support for the FS2 System Navigator and the MIPSsim Instruction Set Simulator (ISS), as well as the Macraigor Systems OCD family of EJTAG probes.

Pricing and Availability: Licenses for the complete Nucleus EDGE development suite begin at U.S. $3,000 per seat.

Accelerated Technology , 1-800-468-6853, www acceleratedtechnology.com

Of the companies that send press releases for the Embedded Tools section of eeProductCenter, Accelerated Technology ranks among the most prolific, with frequent announcements regarding its Nucleus family of products that include a real-time operating system (RTOS); middleware; and design, development, and prototyping tool suites. So I began to wonder: Did their engineering and public relations departments hire only workaholics or was there another reason for all those product releases? To find out, we spoke with Robert Day, the company's director of marketing.

“For a software company to be successful in the embedded world,” says Day, “the software has to work with all the different processors that customers use.” And because Accelerated Technology's products aim largely for the consumer market, there are a lot of processors to cover. “To port all of our products to a new processor architecture is quite a substantial amount of work, and we do it quite frequently,” says Day. “It's a full-time job for us just to keep up with new processors as they come out.”

In contrast, he says, competitors like Wind River Systems, Inc. and Enea tend to focus on narrower markets like military, aerospace, and the telecommunications infrastructure. As result, when it comes to porting products to new processors, says Day, “They don't try as hard was we do.”

Another factor contributing to the frequent product announcements is the breadth of the Nucleus family, which comprises five broad and distinct product lines: an RTOS and its extensions, numerous middleware programs, and separate tool suites for developing, prototyping, and modeling designs. “None of our competitors has any UML design or prototyping capabilities,” says Day. “They have RTOS's, some middleware, and typically some development tools. So as new processors are rolled out, all the tools must be adapted, making for a flurry of product announcements. “Most of our engineering resources are devoted to porting our products to new architectures,” says Day.

Accelerated Technology's business model, because it focuses on the high-volume consumer market, includes offering its Nucleus middleware and Plus RTOS royalty-free. “We have one fee that is paid up front and allows our customers to ship as many of their products using our software as they like,” says Day. In contrast, some competitors require customers to pay a royalty on every product that they ship with their RTOS. Accelerated Technology's development and other tools, however, are licensed on a “per fee” basis, meaning that you pay for each copy, and which is typical across the industry.

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