SANTA CRUZ, Calif. Extending its device software optimization (DSO) capability to the verification and validation environment, Wind River Systems Inc. has rolled out Lab Diagnostics, a tool that lets development and test engineers diagnose and repair software problems with running devices. The new offering is part of Wind River's Device Management product suite.
Thus far, said Paul Henderson, Wind River vice president for business development, Wind River has focused on diagnostic capabilities during the development phase. “This [Lab Diagnostics] is really providing a diagnostic capability to use in system validation and bring-up,” he said. “It requires a different kind of tool that you operate on running devices, not just source code.”
It's also among Wind River's first collaborative tools, Henderson said, since it's based on a server environment that allows development and test engineers to work together and share diagnostic information. Collaboration is supported through web-based interfaces.
Henderson said Lab Diagnostics is a companion product to Field Diagnostics, introduced last year, which allows remote service and management of running devices in the field. Lab Diagnostics is oriented to software validation “inside the firewall,” and serves teams that are globally dispersed, he said.
Lab Diagnostics lets users instrument live devices so as to modify any function, and to monitor, log, and modify any data. It promises diagnostics “on the fly” without changing application code, recompiling or reloading device applications, or stopping the device. It's based on Wind River's Eclipse-based Workbench tool set.
Instrumentation is provided through “sensor points,” which dynamically probe live devices, retrieve and modify variables and data, and capture the system at the point of failure. Users can then rapidly isolate root causes, Wind River claims, and verify fixes before committing them to the code base. Further, users can inject faults, measure performance, and simulate I/O traffic.
Sensor points, said Henderson, “are a way to deploy what you could think of as a probe into a running device. In a hardware setting, you'd have a logic analyzer in there. Sensor points let you do that in a software setting by putting a probe in the middle of an application or operating system, looking at how subsystems are performing, or looking at the ins and outs of a function call.”
Sensor points can be inserted on the fly into the running device without changing source code, Henderson said. “We have mechanisms to patch the running binary,” he said. “An agent allows for placement of sensor points in the device that you can enable or disable under remote control.”
Users can capture data about the running software at the point of failure, Henderson noted, and can set up sensor points that only turn on when certain conditions occur. Also, he said, sensor points can be used to check “extreme” conditions, such as finding out what happens when a copier runs out of ink. Sensor points can thus control software “from the inside,” he said, and can be used to simulate I/O.
Wind River Lab Diagnostics is available now, and it supports the Wind River VxWorks 6.X operating system on most PowerPC and Intel processors, as well as VxWorks 5.5.1 on PowerPC and Wind River Linux 1.4 on PowerPC and Intel processors. Pricing depends on configuration. A server environment for a 5-person workgroup would be $49,000, Henderson said.