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simulators versus emulators

Discussion in 'Beginner Electronics' started by steve marchant, Jan 16, 2005.

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  1. Having difficulty with seeing any difference between the two terms.Can
    anyone offer definitions, both generally and in relation to, say,
    microprocessors.
     
  2. Don Taylor

    Don Taylor Guest

    A simulator is usually a software model of hardware running a program.

    An emulator is usually a hardware model of hardware running a program.

    A software model can assume, for example, that you have a good clock
    signal getting to the processor. It can assume that any input logic
    levels have sufficient voltage and current, don't bounce, all the
    usual things you might assume to be true. The free PIC simulator
    provided by Microchip is a good example. It assumes a variety of
    things and your code can seem to run fine. Then when you toast a
    part and drop it into your board it doesn't run, because one of those
    assumptions wasn't valid.

    Software models may also run at a tiny fraction of the real speed
    of the actual hardware, but this doesn't always have to be the case.
    That can cause grief when you are attempting to deal with real-time
    signals, timing constraints, interrupts that must be serviced in
    a fixed small amount of time, etc.

    A hardware model should act exactly like your real hardware processor
    does. In reality there can be tiny differences there too. But it
    usually is able to run at full speed and deal with more of the ugly
    reality of the signals that you are connecting directly to the
    hardware. But by being built out of more complicated hardware than
    the bare processor it can also allow you to set breakpoints, record
    execution for hundreds or even millions of clock cycles, observe
    internal processor state, all without your needing to have your
    program be modified to attempt to provide this.
     
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