Embedded Debugging may be performed at different levels, depending on the facilities available. From simplest to most sophisticated they can be roughly grouped into the following areas:

• Interactive resident debugging, using the simple shell provided by the embedded operating system (e. g. Forth and Basic)

• External debugging using logging or serial port output to trace operation using either a monitor in flash or using a debug server like the Remedy Debugger which even works for heterogeneous multicore systems.

• An in-circuit debugger (ICD), a hardware device that connects to the microprocessor via a JTAG or NEXUS interface. This allows the operation of the microprocessor to be controlled externally, but is typically restricted to specific debugging capabilities in the processor.

• An in-circuit emulator replaces the microprocessor with a simulated equivalent, providing full control over all aspects of the microprocessor.

• A complete emulator provides a simulation of all aspects of the hardware, allowing all of it to be controlled and modified, and allowing debugging on a normal PC.

Unless restricted to external debugging, the programmer can typically load and run software through the tools, view the code running in the processor, and start or stop its operation. The view of the code may be as assembly code or source-code.

Because an embedded system is often composed of a wide variety of elements, the debugging strategy may vary. For instance, debugging a software — (and microprocessor-) centric embedded system is different from debugging an embedded system where most of the processing is performed by peripherals (DSP, FPGA, co-processor). An increasing number of embedded systems today use more than one single processor core. A common problem with multi-core development is the proper synchronization of software execution. In such a case, the embedded system design may wish to check the data traffic on the busses between the processor cores, which requires very low-level debugging, at signal/bus level, with a logic analyzer, for instance.

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