There has been an explosion of software content on systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), causing software development and validation to become the bottleneck for time-to-market. The industry has therefore been turning to various simulation techniques that aid early integration and verification, ranging from cycle-accurate RTL to ISS-based simulations. These approaches are often expensive and do not provide a platform in which to do meaningful development in the context of an entire platform.

This paper describes a simple and novel approach to fast and easy virtual prototyping that provides a fully functional and accurate platform. It enables software developers to execute the same binary image on the virtual platform as they would on real hardware. The platform can also be used for development of new software features and upgrades.