Debug, multicore, and more debug
By Jakob Engblom
I recently gave a talk at an industry-academia collaboration called ICES, Innovative Center for Embedded Systems, at KTH in Kista, Stockholm, Sweden. The theme was embedded multicore, and I realized that my role at these events seems to have changed. A few years ago, I would be the "embedded guy", defending the collective of embedded systems against speakers assuming that everything was a homogeneous shared-memory multiprocessor. This time was different, though. I have become the "debug fanatic."
There seems to be less need to explain embedded multicore nowadays. The academic community and multicore event participants seem to have finally accepted that there are systems out there that use more than one operating systems on a single chip (thanks to hypervisors, AMP setups, local-memory configurations, etc) and that we have hardware that is highly heterogeneous (with different makes and different types of cores all being part of a single system). In the final panel discussion, I found myself saying "build the hardware anyway you like, as long as I have good hardware debug support and introspection features".
I think this is indicative of a general truth: if you cannot debug it, you cannot build it. For multicore in particular, debug is scrambling to catch up.