Friday, October 12, 2012

YARD-ICE goes Open Source

YARD-ICE

YARD-ICE stands for Yet Another Remote Debugger - In Circuit Emulator. It is a hardware and software platform I made public recently at Google Code. The project goal is to design the Hardware and Software of a JTAG tool to program and debug ARM microcontrollers. The target audience include developers of deep embedded systems with shallow pockets.

Link to the Project: YARD-ICE on Google Code

Why Another JTAG Tool?

There are tons of tool in the market. Why another one? The main reasons are three:

  1.  performance. Some basic, low cost tools, available in the market are really slow. One of the main reasons is that low level operations are performed by the Host PC. The round trip of the USB is the one to be blamed. YARD-ICE solve this problem with and FPGA handling the serialization and other bit handling.
  2.  support for Linux/MAC platforms. Most ICE hardware lacks a decent support for non Windows platforms. There are some exceptions, but those are expensive tools with TCP/IP support. YARD-ICE is a TCP/IP based tool with embedded GDB server. It's designed to work with any IDE supporting GDB like Eclipse.
  3. flexibility. Some tools are OK for some processors, but their best performance is tied to a certain proprietary tool. Scripting is not always an option. And when this possibility exists it's some obscure language or API with Windows DLL dependencies, and too slow. Why not to write a simple shell or python script in the host to automate a test or to program your systems in the factory? YARD-ICE provides a simple csh like scripting capability, you can run small scripts remotely through a ordinary TCP connection. End better than this, if you don't like the way we do or want to customize your tool? No worries, it's LGPL open source, meaning that you have what you need to do just that.

Apart from that I really like bit scrubbing. It's a good way of knowing the processor cores in depth.

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