The Most Complete Collection of Fast Instruction Set Simulators in the Industry

If you are developing software for a processor where you do not have access to the hardware – then you probably need to have a look at using a simulator to develop your software on. Reasons for not having access to the hardware are many. The most common being that the hardware is not yet designed or built and if this is a new chip then the use of a software model or ISS to get the software development started is essential.

With modern instruction sets and processor architectures it is essential that the code you develop is cross compiled and executed on the correct instruction set. Use of host x86 execution only goes so far for modern embedded processors. Many current embedded processors have DSP instructions or specific architectural instructions that affect CPU operation and these just will not exist in a different host processor. Also maybe you have a binary library of say an ARM or MIPS audio or video codec. This will just not run on an x86 and requires you run it on the correct Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). So running your code on the correct ISA is becoming more and more important to get started with early embedded software development.

An Instruction Set Simulator, or ISS, is often the first simulation product used in an embedded software development project. An ISS allows the development and debug of code for the target architecture on an x86/x64 host PC with the minimum of setup and effort. It simply requires the cross compilation of your application and running the ISS with an argument to specify the name of the application object.

ISS Overview

Where can an ISS be used in embedded software development?

An ISS can be used by many different developers in different software development roles. Used by application software engineers who need to create software binaries on the latest architectures but who do not need platform components – an ISS can work with a standard debuggers and GUIs which makes it very easy to get started with full source code interactive debugging.

Middleware library developers can also use an ISS when building software libraries for common functions, for example multimedia standards where they code at the assembly level and make extensive use of the processor data path – a debugger/GUI shows detailed assembly and all processor registers.

Test engineers can use an ISS in a regression test environment as it can be used in batch/scripted environments as well as being used interactively.

A key component of an ISS is the detailed CPU models it uses

The Imperas ISS makes use of the Imperas OVP Fast Processor Model library providing access to over 150 different instruction accurate embedded CPU model variants from the Imagination/MIPS 24Kc to the ARM Cortex-A72MPx4 quad core 64 bit processor. The Imperas ISS product package comes with all these CPU models and example usage of them.

With a modern ISS, speeds of up to 1,000 MIPS can be expected on modern desktop PCs.

CPU Model Speed

This site provides information on the industry’s most comprehensive library of extremely fast and efficient Instruction Set Simulators (ISS) using CPU Models of advanced processor cores that work in a variety of simulation environments. The whole focus of these ISS is to enable you to develop embedded software in a more efficient way, with less bugs, and in less time.

See the other pages on this site for more detailed features and usage information on these Instruction Set Simulators (ISS).

Fast CPU Models used in the ISS

These ISS use Fast Processor/CPU Models that can be used in C, C++, or SystemC TLM based platforms which you can develop or you can use existing platform models (virtual platforms) available from several sources (e.g. OVP, Imperas). Readily available virtual platform models range from simple bare metal models through to full development board models such as the MIPS Malta or ARM Versatile Express.

All the models have been developed in C using OVP technology and for SystemC TLM have been tested to run with all major SystemC simulators: Cadence, Synopsys, Mentor, Carbon, Accellera/OSCI. The models have also been tested with emulators from Synopsys ZeBu, Cadence Palladium, and Aldec. The models run on both Windows and Linux host platforms. Native OVP simulators (use C platforms) are available from Imperas and OVP.

On this site you will see the scope and variety of the Instruction Set Simulators (ISS) available and how easy they are to download and use.

Several companies have downloaded the underlying CPU models and use them within their own internal simulation environments. There are specific APIs to easily allow simulator integration and encapsulation. Cadence working with Imperas is one example.

Imperas ISS uses the Largest CPU Model Library in the Industry

The Imperas ISS just uses the models. To use the ISS you do not need to drill down into any more details of the models, you just use them. However, if you do want to find more about the models or consider using them in your own developed virtual platforms, then there is documentation that explains about the models in general (click to preview) and for each model there is a specific document (click to preview the document for the ARMv8 Cortex-A57MPx4 model) that describes what is available in the model, for example its ports, nets, registers, modes, exceptions, and other configuration/parameter options. On the OVP website there is lot of information about each model (for example click to browse the available information on the ARMv8 Cortex-A57MPx4).

An overview document (click to preview) explains, with the use of examples, how the models are configured and used in SystemC TLM2 platforms. If you are just wanting to use the ISS you will not need to read about SystemC or TLM2 platforms.

In a C or C++/SystemC TLM2 environment, the models are used directly, with no inefficient co-simulation. It is very simple to create homogeneous or heterogenous platforms of advanced processor core models. To see examples of platforms ranging from one to twenty-four cores and for platforms that boot full operating systems like Linux and Android, including SMP, visit the the examples and platforms available from the OVP platforms download area or video area.

If you are building your own platforms, then many models can be instanced in one platform, virtual platform or virtual system prototype – it is easy to build multi-core multi-processor platforms using OVP Fast Processor models.

Faster Models means BUGS ARE FOUND SOONER

The Imperas Instruction Set Simulator (ISS) uses models that run fast, hundreds of millions of instructions per second (MIPS).

If you need maximum available simulation speed from the Fast CPU Models, then you need to find our more about QuantumLeap from Imperas. This uses the parallel resources of the host PC to accelerate the speed of the Instruction Set Simulator (ISS) and can also be used for the platforms you develop yourself.

QuantumLeap from Imperas uses host resources to accelerate simulation throughput

For more information on QuantumLeap parallel simulation acceleration using host resources and to find out how to develop your embedded software at the fastest speeds in the industry, browse the Imperas information.

Fastest Simulation of ARM and MIPS cores

If you want to see a video – click here for the fastest ARM model simulation, or for the Imagination MIPS use of QuantumLeap click here.

Industry Standard Debug and IDE

Each Imperas ISS supports standard debugging interfaces and can be connected using RSP to GDB, either standalone or within an Eclipse IDE environment. The models also connect to the advanced multi-core debugger available as part of the Imperas Advanced Multicore Software Development Kit product.

Eclipse GDB Debug

Easy to use – watch the video

If you want to see videos, OVP has a collection to view here.

More Information

At the top of this page are several menu picks that list the different ISS families and enable access to the ISS specific information. The listed items on the right provide Imperas and OVP news related information.

Getting Started

To explore how easy it is to use these Instruction Set Simulators (ISS) using the OVP Fast CPU Models, look at the Imperas ISS page and the OVP starting page.

If you are looking for products to use to develop embedded software visit the Imperas Software website.

Thank you for your interest – the Instruction Set Simulators (ISS) that use the Open Virtual Platforms Fast Processor Models team. To contact us please visit Imperas or OVP.


Currently available Instruction Set Simulator (ISS) Families.

ISS FamilyInstruction Set Simulator (ISS) Variant
Renesas ISS    Renesas ISS aliases V850 V850E1 V850E1F V850ES V850E2 V850E2M V850E2R m16c r8c (aliases)
MIPS ISS    MIPS ISS aliases ISA M14K M14KcTLB M14KcFMM 4KEc 4KEm 4KEp M4K 4Kc 4Km 4Kp 24Kc 24Kf 24KEc 24KEf 34Kc 34Kf 34Kn 74Kc 74Kf 1004Kc 1004Kf 1074Kc 1074Kf microAptivC microAptivP microAptivCF interAptiv interAptivUP proAptiv 5Kf 5Kc 5KEf 5KEc M5100 M5150 M6200 MIPS32R6 P5600 I6400 MIPS64R6 (aliases)
ARM ISS    ARM ISS aliases ARMv4T ARMv4xM ARMv4 ARMv4TxM ARMv5xM ARMv5 ARMv5TxM ARMv5T ARMv5TExP ARMv5TE ARMv5TEJ ARMv6 ARMv6K ARMv6T2 ARMv6KZ ARMv7 ARM7TDMI ARM7EJ-S ARM720T ARM920T ARM922T ARM926EJ-S ARM940T ARM946E ARM966E ARM968E-S ARM1020E ARM1022E ARM1026EJ-S ARM1136J-S ARM1156T2-S ARM1176JZ-S Cortex-R4 Cortex-R4F Cortex-A5UP Cortex-A5MPx1 Cortex-A5MPx2 Cortex-A5MPx3 Cortex-A5MPx4 Cortex-A8 Cortex-A9UP Cortex-A9MPx1 Cortex-A9MPx2 Cortex-A9MPx3 Cortex-A9MPx4 Cortex-A7UP Cortex-A7MPx1 Cortex-A7MPx2 Cortex-A7MPx3 Cortex-A7MPx4 Cortex-A15UP Cortex-A15MPx1 Cortex-A15MPx2 Cortex-A15MPx3 Cortex-A15MPx4 Cortex-A17MPx1 Cortex-A17MPx2 Cortex-A17MPx3 Cortex-A17MPx4 AArch32 AArch64 Cortex-A53MPx1 Cortex-A53MPx2 Cortex-A53MPx3 Cortex-A53MPx4 Cortex-A57MPx1 Cortex-A57MPx2 Cortex-A57MPx3 Cortex-A57MPx4 Cortex-A72MPx1 Cortex-A72MPx2 Cortex-A72MPx3 Cortex-A72MPx4 ARMv6-M ARMv7-M Cortex-M0 Cortex-M0plus Cortex-M1 Cortex-M3 Cortex-M4 Cortex-M4F (aliases)
POWER ISS    POWER ISS aliases mpc82x UISA m476 m470 m460 m440 (aliases)
Other ISS    Other ISS aliases Synopsys ARC_600 Synopsys ARC_605 Synopsys ARC_700 Synopsys ARC_0x21 Synopsys ARC_0x22 Synopsys ARC_0x31 Synopsys ARC_0x32 openCores_generic Xilinx MicroBlaze_V7_00 Xilinx MicroBlaze_V7_10 Xilinx MicroBlaze_V7_20 Xilinx MicroBlaze_V7_30 Xilinx MicroBlaze_V8_00 Xilinx MicroBlaze_V8_10 Xilinx MicroBlaze_V8_20 Xilinx MicroBlaze_V9_50 Xilinx MicroBlaze_ISA Altera Nios II_Nios_II_F Altera Nios II_Nios_II_S Altera Nios II_Nios_II_E (aliases)