Embedded Systems Survey Reveal Debugging is Top Problem

Virtutech, Inc., the leading provider of full system simulation technology for the development and testing of software for advanced electronic systems, announced the results of the second annual debugging survey conducted at the Embedded Systems Conference held in San Jose, Calif. April 3-7, 2006. The survey concludes that debugging continues to be the most time-consuming and costly phase of the software development lifecycle, with 63 percent of respondents citing debugging as the most significant problem they encounter, almost double any other single task. Furthermore, the survey highlighted the growth of multicore processing and the need for innovative debugging technology to meet the consequent challenges. The respondents were developers and IT decision-makers in the embedded industry.

The growth of multicore processing and the consequent programming challenges were apparent at the Embedded Systems Conference from the multitude of new lectures addressing the subject. Multicore processing is one of the most important hardware innovations for the embedded space, because it allows for better computing performance while taking up less space and generating less heat. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said they are working on at least one multicore project and 9 percent are currently working solely on multicore projects.

With the proliferation of multicore architectures, software developers have been presented with a unique set of development, test and debugging challenges. Respondents listed the most challenging aspects of debugging software on multiprocessor systems as thread locking (31 percent), lack of determinism/bug reproducibility (30 percent) and the fact that breakpoints do not freeze the system (29 percent). However, over one-half of respondents are using debuggers that do not support multiprocessor development.

Additional Data Points

  • Seventy-two percent of survey respondents are using the actual hardware rather than some other proxy to debug for testing and development.
  • Developers’ primary concerns are meeting quality and performance goals. In 2005, survey respondents listed performance and timeline goals as the most worrisome part of their projects.
  • Nearly 30 percent of engineers said the approximate time-to-market of their current product is six to 12 months; 24 percent said it was between 12 and 18 months; 19 percent were working on products with an approximate time-to-market of 18 to 36 months; and 3 percent said their project timelines are over 36 months.

Virtutech Simics: A New Solution
Designed for the most rigorous system software development demands, Virtutech Simics 3.0 is the only development platform leveraging full-system simulation to provide a controlled, deterministic and fully simulated environment for the development, debugging and testing of software for complex digital systems, including multicore. Simics 3.0 provides the most productive environment to test and debug software for improved quality and faster time-to-market of the final product even before silicon is available.

Simics 3.0 features Simics Hindsight, the first complete, general-purpose tool for reverse execution and debugging of arbitrary electronic systems and Device Modeling Language (DML), a C-like programming language for modeling devices for Simics. Ideal for multicore debugging, Simics Hindsight enables reverse execution and debugging of a multi-threaded program on both cores simultaneously, vastly increasing the productivity of software engineers. In addition, DML increases model writing productivity by including a robust semantic analyzer and built-in support for Simics features such as checkpointing and reverse execution.

About Virtutech
Virtutech, Inc. is the leading provider of full-system simulation for advanced software development. Virtutech’s Simics is a revolutionary, award-winning simulator that provides a programmer-friendly environment for testing and debugging embedded software. Simics eliminates software developers’ dependence on test hardware and drives concurrent development, enabling its customers to lower capital expenditure, accelerate time to market and reduce project risk. Based on more than a decade of R&D and close collaboration with leading universities and systems vendors, Virtutech’s technology serves the needs of the world’s leading technology providers, including Cisco, EMC, Ericsson, Honeywell, IBM and Sun Microsystems.

Virtutech is headquartered in San Jose, Calif.

In conjunction with Virtutech, Inc. and an outside survey consultant, Schwartz Communications’ marketing research team developed the questions used in this software development issues and insights survey, conducted at the Embedded Systems Conference 2006, in San Jose, Calif., April 3-7. Schwartz Communications administered the survey in person, on the exhibit hall floor, to a random sampling of 89 embedded industry developers and IT decision-makers. The survey was conducted on April 4, 5 and 6, 2006.