I was very excited on hearing about Intel's acquisition of Virtutech and subsequent announcement that Simics was going to be part of our product line. Why? Because Simics gives you access to hardware platforms before they're even made (including multicore platforms.) In my experience, access to hardware platforms and having enough for everyone is a constant concern during development. Many developers are targeting their new product for new hardware platforms that are still in development and hoping for the stars to align so their software and the hardware platform delivery dates align. Now, if you are on this bleeding edge of technology what can you do to ensure success?
Clearly, if the hardware doesn't exist you need to proceed regardless and you can develop the application software to certain extent but their comes a point where you need to start integrating and testing the system. This is were Simics comes in, letting you build a virtual hardware platform when the hardware doesn't exist or there isn't enough to go around. What's also exciting is the ability to simulate systems at the processor, board and system level (e.g. boards in a chassis.) This virtual platform simulates the hardware very accurately to the point, for example, where the same VxWorks BSP can be used for hardware or virtual platform. This platform can therefore run VxWorks, middleware and applications plus with our tools just like any other target platform.
A virtual platform means your project can proceed full speed to meet time to market windows that are so tight in today's market. More importantly though, are the other advantages of the virtual platform such as the ability to do advanced debugging, check points and restores, real external connections to other systems, and fault injections. Plus, everyone on the team can use this virtual platform, something that is impossible with the typically short supply of prototype boards (if you have hardware at all). Once the hardware comes in you can quickly move to the real hardware platform and deliver your product. Avoiding that last minute integration "Big Bang" saves time, money and improves quality. More and earlier access to the target platform plus advantages of a virtual software-based platform equals the utlimate head start.