By Jakob Engblom
Last month,I had the good fortune to be present at the Embedded World trade show in Nürnberg, Germany. The Embedded World is clearly the world’s best embedded show these days, and it was a great experience as always. I presented a talk on using simulation to enable continuous integration for embedded systems, and had many good discussions with people in our booth. One of the more interesting things that happened was that Mark Godfrey from Vector Software came by and filmed me doing an impromptu Simics demo showing how Simics can be used for Internet-of-Things (IoT) testing. Single take, no chance to go back – a great way to make it spontaneous. Also pretty scary for the speaker. The result is now up, linked from an Embedded World retrospective blog post at Vector Software. You can also go straight to the result on YouTube. Another thing that happened at the Embedded World was that Vector Software announced an integration with Wind River Simics, where we do parallel testing to shorten test times. There is a video showing the demo on the Vector website.
The IoT demo that I showed in the video looks like this when it is standing still:
Essentially, we have an arbitrarily large number of simulated air conditioning nodes, all controlled by a computer board each, and all containing a simple simulation of the AC unit, room being air conditioned, and outside weather. This makes it possible to simulate a very rich set of system behaviors, in particular compared to any conceivable real-world variant of this test system which would have to involve renting buildings and having testers live in them for prolonged periods of time. Each AC node has a number of operational modes, testing different local control algorithms. In the end, these can be connected to a gateway and a management system, and be remotely controlled and polled for data.
On the parallel testing side, what Vector Software is showing is how automatic testing using Simics lets you cut down test times by removing the bottle neck of available hardware resources. We will talk more about this in an webinar that is coming up on March 31, 2015.
The Vector continuous integration demo is essentially using a set of Simics-simulated target machines to run a set of tests in parallel, cutting the time needed to run a set of tests by an order of magnitude. Rather than running one job at a time, they run nine. With good automation, this kind of parallel testing can radically reduce the time needed to run through batches of tests. It is a simple concept, but one with very real power.
Thanks to the guys at Vector for all their work with Simics and testing!