Development tools comments

Hi Experts,

Let me start by providing some background.

We have designed an ASIC: 8051 + non standard peripherals (timers etc)

  • FLASH + RF frontent for a product used in wireless communications.

The 8051 currently has a single breakpoint register, and we have managed to integrate with the Keil debugger (single stepping and breakpoints seem to work OK)

Anyway, we are now looking at the next generation of this device, for which S/W and F/W will be written by the user. We will therefore need to produce a "good development board/environment etc" for users".

During (potential) customer visits, lots of buzzwords have been mentioned

- In circuit simulator (is this the same as in circuit probe)

- Trace

- Breakpoints and single step

The problem is, we didn't design the 8051 core, and we are not really a F/W development house. We are generally hardware designers who hack (if we have a S/W problem, we can generally simulate).

So, I guess I am looking for opinions on what "S/W development" features you

- can't live without

- are useful

- you never really use

For the RTL coders amongst you, how easy (or what is the requirement for) H/W support for the feature you mention. Are these things generally based on JTAG?

Any other pointers/links/comments greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,


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For my needs JTAG is great feature to have for debugging. Along with a usable debugger of course. Analog Devices produces a line of 8051 based MCUs that have a single pin debugging capability. It works "mostly", but is quirkier than some of the JTAG devices I have used.

Breakpoints, preferably including at least one hardware breakpoint, are a must for debugging, as is single step capability.

The Keil division of ARM makes a great 8051 IDE (uVision 3) that also provides interface to the ADI single pin debugger as well as a really good hardware simulator. Having them support your chip would be a real asset.

Trace capability can be a real plus for debugging, but is not generally offered through simple JTAG.


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