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 The Breker Trekker
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson is vice president of Marketing for Breker Verification Systems. He previously served as Product Management Group Director for Advanced Verification Solutions at Cadence, Technical Marketing Director in the Verification Group at Synopsys and Vice President of Applications Engineering at … More »

Who Will Win the Embedded Processor War?

 
December 10th, 2013 by Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing

As you likely know by now, Breker’s primary focus is on verifying SoCs with one or more embedded processors. Sometimes these processors are homogenous, most commonly either the Intel/AMD x86 or ARM architecture. Other SoCs have multiple heterogeneous processors, possibly a diverse mix of cores from x86, ARM, MIPS, ARC, Tensilica, etc.

The trade press devotes a lot of virtual ink to covering the “war” for embedded processor dominance. An article last week made the case for ARM winning. A recent white paper discussed “heterogeneous multi-processing” using ARM’s “big.LITTLE” approach of multiple cores with the same architecture but different performance characteristics. Another article reminded us not to forget about DSPs in the heterogeneous mix. The same could be written about GPUs. So what is Breker’s take on all this?

At some level, we really don’t care whose processor or architecture dominates in the embedded SoC world. That’s because we’ve worked very hard to remain processor-agnostic. When TrekSoC or TrekSoC-Si generates a test case, it produces the most generic C/C++ code that will do the job. The reason is simple:  we want the same code to work with any embedded processor. As long as your processor has a C/C++ compiler, you’ll be able to compile and execute our test case.

Our customers have included many different types of processor cores in their SoCs and have used our products to generate test cases for them. The programs on the heterogeneous cores execute seamlessly in synchronization, passing application scenarios from thread to thread and from processor to processor.

Although technically processor-agnostic, at the same time we’re part of the vibrant EDA and embedded systems industries, and so pursue partnerships where it makes sense. For example, we’re a longtime proud member of the ARM Connected Community. We recently joined the in-Sync program from Synopsys, which offers the ARC cores as part of their IP portfolio.

So we’re in an interesting position. We remain committed to processor neutrality for our test cases and will continue to generate code designed to work anywhere. However, if our customers need any vendor-specific or processor-specific support we’re happy to provide that.

Further, we follow the embedded processor war as we do many aspects of the SoC industry, and frequently forward interesting articles on this topic in our twitter stream. It’s an exciting time to be working in embedded systems, especially as we start to move into the “Internet-of-Things” (IoT) era, and we will continue to follow the industry with much interest.

Tom A.

The truth is out there … sometimes it’s in a blog.

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