Express Logic Unveils TraceX™—New Tool for ThreadX® System Event Analysis



Express Logic, Inc., the worldwide leader in royalty-free real-time operating systems
(RTOS), announces the release of TraceX™, its first host-based embedded development
tool. TraceX enables embedded developers to visualize and better understand the behavior
of their real-time systems. With TraceX, developers can see clearly the occurrence of
system events like interrupts and context switches that occur out of view of standard
debugging tools. The ability to identify and study these events, and to pinpoint the
timing of their occurrence in the context of the overall system’s operation enables
developers to resolve programming problems by finding unexpected behavior and letting them
investigate specific areas further.

Designed to work with Express Logic’s ThreadX® RTOS, TraceX collects a database of
system and application “events” on the target system during run-time. These events include
thread context switches, preemptions, suspensions, terminations, and system interrupts,
all of which generally escape detection in a standard debugging environment. Events are
logged in the database by ThreadX under program control, with time-stamping and active
thread identification so they can be displayed later in the proper time sequence. Event
logging may be stopped and restarted by the application program dynamically, for example,
when an area of interest is encountered. This avoids cluttering the database and using up
target memory when the system is performing correctly.

Trace information is stored in a circular buffer on the target system, with buffer size
determined by the application. That information may be uploaded to the host for analysis
at any time – either post mortem or on encountering a breakpoint. A circular buffer
enables the most recent “N” events to be stored at all times, and to be available for
inspection on system malfunction or another significant event.

Once the event log has been uploaded from target memory to the host, TraceX displays
the events graphically on a horizontal axis representing time, with the various
application threads and system routines to which the events are related listed along the
vertical axis. TraceX creates a “software logic analyzer” on the host, making system
events plainly visible. Events are represented by color coded icons, located at the point
of occurrence along the horizontal timeline, to the right of the relevant thread or system
routine. When an event icon is selected, the corresponding information for that event is
displayed, as well as the information for the two previous and two subsequent events. This
provides quick,single-click access to the most immediate information about the event and
its immediately surrounding events. The axes may be expanded to show more detail or
collapsed to show more events. TraceX provides an “overview mode” display that shows all
system events on a single horizontal line to simplify analysis of systems with many
threads.

With TraceX, complex real-time interactions and race conditions can be examined far
easier than by using standard debugging techniques. Race conditions occur when system
events are not deterministically sequenced, and their order is critical to proper
operation. Such application errors are generally difficult to identify, and TraceX sheds
valuable light on them, making them easier to find and correct. By providing this
visibility into race conditions, as well as interrupts, preemptions and other events,
TraceX speeds application development and further enables ThreadX to get products to
market faster than the competition.

“With our new TraceX product, we’re able to offer ThreadX developers increased
visibility into their system during development,” commented William E. Lamie, president of
Express Logic. “TraceX paints a graphical picture of the system in a way that standard
debuggers cannot, and this helps developers produce better products in less time than ever
before.”

Shipping and Availability

TraceX is available from Express Logic immediately, for use on Windows hosts, for all
MIPS processor architectures, for a license price of $1,000 per seat.

Contact Information

Express Logic, Inc.

11423 West Bernardo Court
San Diego, CA, 92127
USA

tele: 858.613.6640
fax: 858.613.6646
info@expresslogic.com
www.expresslogic.com

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