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Electronic Systems Prototyping: Tools and Methodologies for Better Observability

Authored on: Nov 28, 2005 by Frederic Leens

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Prototype is an old companion of the electronics engineer; and as for old couples sometimes, they have a history of love and hate. Before RTL simulation became one of the most successful methodologies for design, lots of systems were developed and debugged by connecting devices on a breadboard and running extensive 'try-and-observe' test programs. Of course, EDA tools have pushed the prototyping to the late stages of the development—in theory, with the purpose to check a design already pre-validated with these tools. Recently, system board prototyping gained a new wave of interest because the constantly growing complexities of electronic system led to impractical system simulation times—at least with traditional RTL/gate-level simulation approaches. In brief, to speed up test and debug, "there appeared a need to put a piece of real hardware back in the process." This paper takes a look at the prototype place in the development flow.

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