We all would agree that the complexity of software is rising in SoC designs because of the multi-core, multi-OS and core-specific environment. The need for debug tools to address this complexity has certainly become a challenge. One issue that may not be so readily apparent is that debug tools can only provide visibility into problems when the processor or target system will allow it. Intel®, it turns out, is stepping up to some of these challenges that software developers face.
Code execution tracing is one area where only the processor or code instrumentation can provide visibility. The problem with code instrumentation is that it could adversely affect code performance and size. So we are left to whatever means the processor vendor provides visibility via silicon. Some vendors are better at providing trace hooks but these hooks can be expensive as they consume precious silicon real estate and, after all, we are talking about hooks for software debug.
Well, Intel is providing high-speed instruction trace in some of its latest silicon. A paper written by Larry Traylor, VP of Software Debug and Trace, highlights what Intel is doing in their silicon to bring minimally intrusive trace into next-generation processors.
The paper discusses where to find information on Intel’s trace capabilities, something that we recognize as a challenge with Intel documentation. The paper also includes an explanation of trace compression, a brief history of Intel’s older trace support, details on the advantages of using high-speed trace and information on how ASSET’s SourcePoint™ debugger provides multiple views into the trace data. Trace data mining can provide insight into operational or performance problems much faster than hours of traditional stop-and-go debug ever could. This paper provides examples and information that is key to reducing software debug cycle times and making the most of the power of trace that’s in Intel silicon.
And come by and see us at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) 2014, Booth 450, for a discussion and demonstration of Intel’s high-speed trace and the visibility provided by our SourcePoint debugger. I’ll be there as will Larry Traylor.