Green Hills Software: Real-time software/hardware debugging

A hardware trace probe that brings high-speed software trace collection to processors with embedded trace ports has been announced by Green Hills Software Inc. (Santa Barbara, CA).


Initial production units of SuperTrace Probe are set to ship in October 2003 and carry a list price of $9,900.

A hardware trace probe that brings high-speed software trace collection to processors with embedded trace ports has been announced by Green Hills Software Inc . (Santa Barbara, CA). SuperTrace Probe reportedly combines the fastest-available trace engine with huge trace memory to give users an extremely wide window into embedded software execution.

The new probe’s one-gigabyte trace buffer is said to capture several hundred million processor cycles of execution and data trace. This contrasts with the typical probe, which uses only a few megabytes of trace buffer to hold data and limits developers’ window into code execution. It forces users to apply complex trigger conditions to the processor’s trace logic to limit data collection. ''A limited trace buffer means developers have to guess where a bug is when trying to catch it on trace,'' says David Kleidermacher, VP of engineering at Green Hills.

SuperTrace Probe provides control of the processor’s trace logic plus a channel for capturing trace data while the processor runs. The probe is compatible with various PowerPC, ARM Embedded Trace Macrocell (ETM), and other processor families and devices. It works at clock speeds beyond 300 MHz.

Green Hills’ Multi integrated development environment (IDE) works closely with SuperTrace Probe to help developers navigate the large data buffer and locate information efficiently. Multi’s trace GUI allows users to:

  • Create graphical state-transition diagrams and search for specific events in the trace log;

  • Create bookmarks to recall important data sites;

  • Emphasize functions/variables in the trace window through color coding, or hide unwanted information for easier scanning; and

  • Automatically map hardware addresses to virtual memory, showing what process or thread each trace log entry represents.

Processors with trace provide an incremental upload feature for the buffer. It lets developers examine trace data and debug their program immediately while the trace buffer uploads in the background.

—Frank J. Bartos, Executive Editor,

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