Arm releases application profiling tool for Symbian OS

Chip designer Arm Holdings released on Tuesday its first application profiling tool for the Symbian operating system.

Chip designer Arm Holdings released on Tuesday its first application profiling tool for the Symbian OS.

The Arm Profiler for Symbian is a component of the RealView Development Suite 4.0 professional version, a batch of tools for software developers writing and debugging code for Arm-designed chips.

The tool for Symbian is intended to let developers fine tune their applications as handsets become more complex with GPS (Global Positioning System), music playing and phone functions, said Elan Lennard, product manager for profiling tools at Arm.

Developers want their applications to run fast, use as little memory as possible and not consume a lot of power.

"What we are focusing on is providing tools to help handset developers and software developers to be able to add as many features to be competitive while at the same time not suffering on performance," Lennard said.

The Arm profiler for Symbian is nonintrusive, Lennard said. Applications do not have to be modified to accommodate a profiling session, she said. Developers can also run other applications alongside the one they're testing to see how their application performs in a real-use situation, Lennard said.

The tool will also let developers collect an unlimited amount of trace data, which shows how instructions are executed on a processor. Trace data shows how many processor cycles it takes to execute an instruction. Developers can then use that information to improve the application's code.

But collecting trace data poses other problems. Just a few seconds of trace data generates megabytes of data. Most profiling tools have a memory buffer that won't collect more than 4G bytes, Lennard said.

Arm has configured its tool to collect an unlimited amount of trace data. Arm's trace collection unit can be connected by a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable to another hard drive, allowing for a virtually unlimited amount of trace to be collected, she said. Developers can also look at every instance when an instruction is executed, which gives a granular view of how the code runs.

"Developers can really focus on where their application is experiencing performance hits," Lennard said.

The Arm Profiler for Symbian will run on hardware with an Embedded Trace Macrocell, which allows information on the processor to be collected while it's running.

Arm also offers RTSM (Real-Time System Models), which accurately emulate a processor in software for application testing, in the professional version of the RealView Development Suite 4.0. The suite starts at US$8,600.

The RTSMs cover six Arm processors: ARM926EJ-S, ARM1136JF-S, ARM1176JZF-S, Cortex-A8, New Cortex R4 and then New Cortex A9.

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Jeremy Kirk

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