Use cases for virtual prototyping
By Everett Lumpkin and Casey Alford
Embedded.com (06/22/10, 06:03:00 PM EDT)
Engineers embrace model-based design in many different disciplines associated with product development, for example, finite element analysis in mechanical engineering and circuit simulation for electrical engineering.
Modeling enables development before physical prototypes are available. It enables development that is not possible, or is very difficult, with the physical or actual product. Virtual prototyping of embedded hardware brings the model-based design paradigm to embedded system development.
The use of virtual prototypes prior to hardware delivery has well-documented benefits for architectural exploration, early software development, golden reference specifications, reduced silicon turns, and software/hardware co-verification.  This article focuses on the virtual prototype benefits after physical prototype availability. The Google Android Emulator is a well known example of how a VP delivers value even after silicon is available .
A successful virtual prototype (VP) of Electronic Control Units (ECU) has five key characteristics:
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