First embedded debugger for Intel x86 platforms can diagnose systems remotely

Richardson, TX (March 30, 2011) – A new embedded debugger from ASSET® InterTech (, the leading supplier of tools for embedded instrumentation, is the first debugger that can be embedded into Intel® x86 platforms for remote or local diagnostics. Based on ASSET’s ScanWorks® platform for embedded instruments, the debugger is inserted into the firmware of a system’s secondary service processor and can be operated remotely from anywhere and at anytime.

The debugger, which is referred to as the ScanWorks embedded diagnostics solution, requires no external hardware since it consists of embedded intellectual property (IP). From the service processor, the debugger gains access to the board’s x86 processor by way of its debug port and asserts hardware-based run control over the system to diagnose faults and failures. Manufacturers of high-availability systems can embed the ScanWorks embedded diagnostics solution into their systems and remotely debug systems that have failed or are performing poorly.

“In addition to its traditional place in PCs and servers, x86 is rapidly proliferating into routers, wireless base stations, storage systems, military and aerospace systems, and even ultra-mobile applications. Reliability and high-availability are a big concern in all of these applications and embedded diagnostics is a critical way to achieve that,” said Alan Sguigna, vice president of sales and marketing for ASSET. “ScanWorks embedded diagnostics is able to identify the root causes of problems that often seem impossible to debug, such as Windows’ dreaded ‘blue screen’ system crashes or kernel panics in Linux.”

In addition to being operated remotely, the debugger also can be deployed in development environments before systems are delivered to the market. Its troubleshooting functionality is invaluable for diagnosing problems with the system’s device drivers, BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), operating system kernel, and catastrophic or intermittent hardware or software failures that might cause system crashes or hangs. Some of the debugger’s functions include reading and writing to all x86 registers, to memory, and to I/O interfaces; setting and retrieving breakpoints; and single-stepping through code.

One of the early adopters of ScanWorks embedded diagnostics was Cray Inc., which is integrating it into next-generation, high-availability supercomputers to ensure a high level of system reliability.
“ASSET’s ScanWorks platform provides a rich set of functionality for embedded diagnostics,” said Peg Williams, senior vice president of research and development at Cray. “ScanWorks-based solutions will enable Cray’s next-generation product development to maintain a focus on quality and reliability, while continuing to push the envelope in scalability. This is a real differentiator for Cray’s next-generation supercomputers and we believe it will give us a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Pricing and Availability: The ScanWorks embedded diagnostics solution is available now. Pricing is customized based upon platform and BMC configurations. In addition to solutions for new designs targeting the Intel® microarchitecture codenamed Sandy Bridge, ASSET’s ScanWorks supports a number of other Intel® platforms.

ScanWorks® – Platform for Embedded Instruments

ASSET, through its ScanWorks platform, is applying the experience it has gained from two decades as a leading supplier of IEEE 1149.1 boundary-scan (JTAG) test tools to the development of open embedded instrumentation tools. The boundary-scan infrastructure that is embedded into chips and circuit boards is one of several technologies which can form the basis for an embedded instrumentation toolset. In recent years, ASSET has significantly enhanced ScanWorks beyond boundary-scan test with the addition of other embedded instrumentation technologies, including processor-controlled test (PCT) and tools for Intel® IBIST (Interconnect Built-In Self Test), an embedded instrumentation technology that Intel® and other companies are embedding into next-generation chips and chipsets.

About ASSET InterTech

ASSET InterTech is the leading supplier of open tools for embedded instrumentation for design validation, test and debug. The ScanWorks platform provides automation, access and analysis tools in one environment. Users can quickly and easily validate and test semiconductors, circuit boards or entire systems during every phase of a product’s life, including design, manufacturing/repair and field maintenance. ASSET InterTech is located at 2201 North Central Expressway, Suite 105, Richardson, TX 75080.

Trademarks: ASSET, the ASSET logo and ScanWorks are registered trademarks of ASSET InterTech, Inc. All other trade and service marks are the properties of their respective owners.