This is my final blog in a 4-part series about JTAG debug for Intel® Architecture (IA) processors. There has been explosive development in this area in the past few months, with the introduction of new IA debug tools from four companies. What makes this significant is that before these four companies entered the fray in 2009 there had been only a single option available to IA developers, which was from Arium. In my previous blogs, I have written about Arium and Wind River, Green Hills, and Macraigor. [click on the links to read those blogs] Last but not least comes Lauterbach which is the focus of this blog. Note that I covered Arium first because they were the long-time incumbent supplier but the sequence of the others is arbitrary and does not reflect any bias.
I refer to Lauterbach figuratively as “last but not least,” but in the literal sense they are definitely not “least.” Lauterbach is the self-proclaimed largest producer of hardware-assisted debug tools, having shipped some 60,000 hardware systems and over 100,000 debug licenses to over 18,000 customers worldwide since their inception 30 years ago. Note that Wind River and Green Hills may be larger companies by revenue but most of that is from software whereas Lauterbach specializes in debug devices exclusively. They list as a milestone the first compact emulator for the Z80, for those of us who remember that era – before some of our community members were even born, much less debugging computers. Prior to the current generation of IA, Lauterbach also has some history supporting legacy Intel processors, listed in the table below.
Lauterbach’s entry into the IA space is support for Intel® Atom™ added to their Trace32® product line. The modular product is configured by combining a universal PowerDebug base module that is used for all supported processors with a processor-specific interface module for Atom. Two base modules are available, with either USB only or USB plus Ethernet host connections. The base modules are priced at $2,010 and $4,000, respectively, and the Atom interface costs $3,000. Lauterbach users who already have the base module from another project need only swap in the new Atom interface to get up and running on Atom. Everything else is the same. I’ll make some further comments about pricing below, but first a quick look at the product specs.
Lauterbach’s website highlights the following features:
- SMP debugging (incl. hyperthreading)
- Fast high-level and assembler debugging
- Intelligent loader to boost download speed
- Interface to all compilers
- Linux- and WindowsCE-aware debugging
- User-configurable display system for internal and external peripherals at a logical level
- Flash programming
- Powerful script language
As I did with the other vendors in this blog series, I asked Lauterbach to comment on what they believe sets their product apart. For that I connected with Jerry Flake, U.S. Western Region Sales Manager. Engineers, before you get put off by Mr. Flake’s sales title let me tell you he’s a EE who actually knows how to use these products.
From the feature list above, Flake leads off with the scripting language that is customizable. The GUI, TRACE32, interfaces with other tools, such as Labview, Rapitime, Rhapsody and Platform Builder, as well as Eclipse. But he says Lauterbach’s customers tend to enjoy the advanced features of TRACE32 over the Eclipse solution. Since Lauterbach does not offer their own compilers or RTOS, Flake contends that their compiler support is more open and RTOS awareness is a strength. You can set breakpoints at the thread, process, or kernel level and examine stacks and task control blocks, kernel resources, status of all loaded threads, and look at contexts other than the current one. Atom hyperthreading is supported by their SMP (Symmetrical Multi-Processing) feature that lets you view one thread at a time. Flake says that if they don’t already support your commercial RTOS, they’ll add it at no charge, typically in two or three month’s time. And if you have your own custom RTOS, you can add that support yourself using an available kit.
Also notable according to Flake is their fast target download, which is achieved by operating at up to 80 MHz JTAG speed (204 KBytes/s using 20 MHz JTAG frequency) combined with TRACE32’s intelligent loader, utilizing techniques like compression and differential loading, i.e., loading only those parts of the image that changed since the last build. These features are in part enabled by a high performance CPU onboard the main debug module. All of this results in achievable intelligent downloads to ~4 MBytes/s.
He also points out that the product includes a FLASH programmer and, similar to their RTOS posture, if your device isn’t already supported they will add it at no charge in a short period of time. Flake cites these services as examples of Lauterbach’s commitment to supporting their customers.
Speaking of device support, the list of supported processors on Lauterbach’s website is quite extensive- numbering well into the hundreds- and includes many silicon companies I have never even heard of. This translates into a large base of projects and engineers familiar with this tool which will make it easier to transition to IA. Today, IA support means Atom. Lauterbach says that they will consider other IA parts based on customer demand.
Coming back to pricing, based on the figures I’ve cited above a complete new Trace32® system (Ethernet host) will set you back $7,000. But if you already own the universal base module, the incremental outlay for the Atom interface is a more modest $3,000. Either way, this puts Lauterbach somewhere in the middle of the five suppliers’ pricing band which ranges from under $1,000 to over $11,000.
The table below shows a snapshot of the JTAG debug options currently available for IA.
IA Processor Support
Intel® Atom™, Core™ 2, Pentium®, Celeron®, and Xeon®
Green Hills Software
Green Hills Probe™
Intel® Atom™, Core™ 2, Xeon® 5500, and EP80579
Intel® Atom™, 8051, 8086, 80168, 80286, 80386SX, 80386, and 80486
Wind River Systems
Wind River Probe
Wind River ICE 2
Intel® Atom™, Core™ 2 Duo T9400, L7400 and Xeon® x55xx
* Data obtained from the respective company websites at the time of posting
Just a few months ago, developers working with IA had only one option for JTAG debug. Today, depending on which IA chip you’re using, you have as many as five choices. What’s most important to you- features, cost, familiarity, company tool chain standards? How will you decide? Please feel free to share your thoughts.
All five companies mentioned in this blog are members of the Intel® Embedded Alliance. Wind River Systems is an Associate member; Arium, Green Hills Software, and Macraigor Systems are Affiliate members; and Lauterbach GmbH is a General member of the Alliance.
Intel® Embedded Community