The explosion of software content in embedded devices is driving device manufacturers and silicon vendors to re-engineer their software development methodologies. Today’s mobile devices, for example, have become full-fledged clients that contain a rich array of applications and their supporting infrastructure software, including operating systems, security, management, messaging, and browsers.

Virtual Platforms for software development is an emerging technology that enables accelerated software development in embedded and mobile devices. Virtual platforms are fast and scalable models of the system hardware including the device hardware and the environment it evolves in. They provide the combined execution speed, early availability, controllability, observability and determinism usable pre- and post-silicon availability that none of the traditional software development methods have provided so far. The goal of this paper is to introduce the reader and audience to the concepts of virtual hardware platforms for software development through description and examples.