Target types

When debugging, it is important to consider the capabilities and relevancy of the target. Sometimes a target, during the development cycle, bears only a cursory resemblance to the final SoC design. This means that areas like speed, functionality, or performance might differ between earlier targets and the final design.

Here is a list of different targets that you might work with during a project, and some things to remember about each of them:

RTL simulation or emulation
  • Accurate model of the processor but bot a complete representative of the final design.
  • Debugging is very slow.
FPGA
  • Can be true to final design.
  • Debugging is faster than RTL simulation, but slower than final target.
  • May require more steps to establish a debug connection.
Software model
  • Can be true to layout of final design, but not necessarily timing accurate.
  • There may be aspects of the model which do not function the same way that the hardware functions.
  • Debugging is faster than RTL simulation, but slower than an FPGA.
  • Need to consider whether the model is functionally accurate or timing accurate.
Development board
  • If built in-house, the target is similar to, or the same as, the final design. If built by a third party, the target is only similar to the final design.
  • May require more steps to establish a debug connection.
  • Debugging is faster than a model.
Final silicon
  • The target is the final design.
  • May not have physical connectors for debugger connection.
  • Debugging is faster.
  • Typically available late in project development.
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