Percepio, Lauterbach team for debug

Percepio, Lauterbach team for debug

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Percepio in Sweden has teamed with Lauterbach in Germany to combine their debug tools at the hardware level.

The first result of the cooperation is an integration that allows Lauterbach series of TRACE32 high-end trace tools on ARM Cortex-M microprocessors to live stream software trace data into Percepio Tracealyzer, providing visual trace diagnostics for accelerated debugging and verification.

“We support Segger’s J-Link and STMicroelectronics’ ST-Link debug with Tracealyzer, and now Lauterbach,” said Johan Kraft, CEO of Percepio. “The Lauterbach devices are incredibly fast and they are an important market for us. We have a project that has been going on for while to use hardware trace.”

“In our existing solutions we have used software instrumentation with extra code that logs events – that is flexible but brings overhead and there is a limit on how much data you can log. With hardware trace support its more plug and play with more data,” he said.

“Lauterbach is pleased to have started a collaboration with Percepio. It gives our customers the great benefit of using the non-intrusive high-speed tracing capabilities of TRACE32 in combination with the in-detail trace analysis of Tracealyzer. It’s a perfect fit to find bugs and defects that are difficult to detect, such as race conditions or sporadic timing issues,” said Norbert Weiss, Managing Director of Lauterbach.

“We see tremendous potential in using high-end tracing solutions such as Lauterbach TRACE32 and µTrace together with the advanced visualization in Percepio Tracealyzer. Our Lauterbach integration allows Tracealyzer users to record runtime data at unprecedented speeds using the Lauterbach µTrace for ARM Cortex-M,” said Kraft, CEO, Percepio. “It also allows existing Lauterbach users to achieve a new level of insight with Tracealyzer. The next step is to leverage hardware trace data in Tracealyzer to show more detailed information. We have a working solution in development, and we have been collaborating with Lauterbach on that for some time now.”

“We have integrated with the general Lauterbach API so we can pull out data,” said Kraft. “With the Lauterbach tools you have hardware trace but its restricted to what the hardware provides. Software is more flexible, so what we are planning is a hybrid approach where we combine the hardware trace and that fast channel with super lightweight instrumentation that only takes a few clock cycles.”

“This returns the function argument and return values that are normally on the stack or in registers and don’t have fixed locations so that gives more advanced analysis with minimal instrumentation,” he said.

The aim is to enable all Lauterbach customers to use visual trace debug diagnostics with Percepio Tracealyzer based on hardware trace data. Kraft says the two companies already have joint customers asking for this capability and expect to announce further products during the second half of 2021.

This is a key part of the company expansion following a SEK22m (€2.1m) Series A venture capital funding round last year.

“We are working on multiple fronts, one is Lauterbach and automotive and the other is the Internet of Things (IoT) and they are converging. We have a second product, DevAlert, for monitoring in deployment and system testing so we can take a tool like Lauterbach Trace32, upload data to a cloud service and notify developers around the work when there are issues so they can collaborate in a better way,” he said.

“DevAlert is early in this market, so we have a lot of interesting opportunities in this space,” he said. “Initially we focussed on Tracelyser and it took us a while to find a path forward, and that was DevAlert. That was about the time AWS acquired FreeRTOS and that allowed us to think much bigger and was the first step in the expansion.”

“I’m a techie at heart and I wanted to find a way to work with this technology so I’ve learned the business the hard way over the last ten years, so things have accelerated in the last three years. The main investor for the latest round, Fairpoint, has a longer perspective and we expected the Series A to last two to three years to break even – things are looking good and we are meeting our goals, We have just completed recruitment, grown by 50 percent,” he said. “International expansion comes later – the US and Germany are our two most important markets both strategically and in revenue.”

“We’ve already discussed collaborations with some players so I know the potential is there,” he said.

The first versions of the Percepio debug tool were based around real time operating systems such as ThreadX, now the Microsoft Azure RTOS, and FreeRTOS, now Amazon FreeRTOS. The latest version of Tracealyzer, 4.4, was launched last year with support for embedded Linux.

“Fragmentation is indeed a challenge and that’s a big part of the explanation for the long roll out of 4.4. People have all sorts of configurations on their machines and getting Tracealyzer to work on every possible configuration was a challenge. We are getting there but there has been a lot of learning on the way.”

“We have also made improvements since 4.4, with two or three updates, and we tested this on a whole load of configurations,” said Kraft. “What we are seeing is we need to reduce the number of dependencies to improve our productivity and be less sensitive to the fragmentation. We have that already on the target side with LTTNG trace framework with a standardised data format and that has been working well,” he said.

“We see an exponential growth potential particularly if you can get the traction we are sensing with the combination of IoT and automotive,” he added.

With recent consolidation there is demand for independent debug tool vendors, particularly in automotive. “We see a demand from several suppliers to support their tool chains and processors so we have been talking to automotive Tier One suppliers and we see a lot of interest there. Lauterbach is the first result of that trend and I would expect a couple more announcements later in the year,” he said.

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