Emulator cuts embedded software development time for Renesas MCUs

February 10, 2017 // By Graham Prophet
Renesas Electronics' E2 Emulator is a new-generation on-chip debugging emulator, part of the development environment for the latest devices in the Renesas RH850, RX, and RL78 Families of microcontrollers (MCUs), and for a selection of automotive system(s)-on-chip (SoCs). Renesas says it can significantly shorten the time required for CAN communication debugging.

The emulator supports the extended debugging functionality of the RH850 Family and contributes to shortening the time required for CAN communication debugging and current consumption debugging.

 

One challenge with existing ECU software development is that it is necessary to download the program from the emulator to the MCU. And each time debugging code needs to be added to the control program, it increases the program size and download time. In the case of CAN communication, a significant contributor to this repetitive debug cycle is the need to use a CAN analyzer along with the emulator - these devices have not traditionally operated synchronously. In the case of low power optimization, the emulator is typically used side-by-side with an ammeter or current probe, and it is difficult to link the current consumption peak specifically to the matching point of time in the running code.

 

To address this challenge, Renesas has integrated additional debugging features required for software development as solutions into the E2. The emulator reduces the time required to determine the cause of an error during CAN communication by providing a connection to the bus that allows message timing to be matched with executing code; it also makes it easier to determine the cause of current consumption peak by monitoring the current draw of the device and correlating that with the code. This enables system developers to potentially reduce development time in these areas to as little as one-tenth compared with the existing method of repeated program modification and downloads. Even when the modification/download cycle is necessary, the increased download speed of the E2 lessens its impact on the speed of the development cycle.

 

The E2 Emulator features faster communication speeds between the MCU and emulator and parallelization of flash rewriting and data communication. These capabilities enable control program downloads up to twice as fast as Renesas' existing E1 Emulator. The unit combines instruction-level debugging with CAN