eBug: Debugging Extensions for the eMIPS Dynamically Extensible Processor

Giovanni Busonera, Alessandro Forin, and Richard Neil Pittman


eBug is a debugging solution for software developed on the eMIPS dynamically-extensible processor. The off-chip portion of eBug is an application that performs tasks that would be too expensive or too inflexible to perform in hardware, such as implementing the communication protocols to interface to the client debuggers. The on-chip hardware portion of eBug is realized with a new approach: rather than being built into the base pipelined data path, it is a loadable logic module that uses the standard Extension interface of the processor. This accomplishes the three goals of area minimization and reuse, security in a general purpose, multi-user environment, and open-ended extensibility. When not in use, eBug is simply not present on the chip and its area is therefore reused. eBug solves the security issues normally created by a hardware-level debug module because only the process that owns the eBug Extension can be affected by a debugging session. As an Extension, eBug is not compiled into the basic processor design and this makes it easy to add new features without affecting the core eMIPS design. Leveraging the high-visibility extension interface of eMIPS, eBug can realize arbitrarily complex features for high-level monitoring. In this paper we describe how we transparently added hardware watchpoints to the initial, simpler design. It is also possible to interface eBug with other eMIPS extensions such as those generated by P2V to improve its capabilities. eBug was written in Verilog and is usable both with the Giano system simulator and on the Xilinx ML401 FPGA board.


Publication typeTechReport
InstitutionMicrosoft Research
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