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An Embedded RISC-V Blog

Viewing hardware and software interaction is much easier with a logic analyzer style trace. In almost every job I’ve had I’ve added a VCD tracer to the instruction set simulator. Both the “big picture” state flow can be seen, and the “little details” of bus/register/interrupt/io interaction can be seen.

For that purpose I’ve forked the RISC-V ISA Simulator,

About the fork

This fork adds a few features.

This is an example of a firmware writing to the mtimecmp register:

mtimecmp write

Extending the Spike RISC-V ISA Simulator

The simulator seems to be designed for evaluating the RISC-V ISA, not for achieving performance. It’s also designed to mostly match a hardware system - with a clear encapsulation for bus interfaces, interrupt controllers, registers and each instruction implementations.

This makes it easy to extend.

Where it deviates from hardware is the “interleave” feature. Instructions are processed in batches of 5000 instructions per hart. During this interleave the CPU state is not synced as strongly. For example the timer will only update once every 5000 instructions.

Changed Files

New Options

  --vcd-log=<file>      Log VCD to this file.
  --max-cycles=<cycle count>      Limit simulation to this number of cycles.

New Interpreter Commands

echo <on|off>
interrupt <core>  <raise|clear> <mei|mti|msi>
trace <name> <addr> <size> 
trace <var>

echo <on|off>

Interpreter commands will be echo’ed to the console.

This allows log output to be examined with the commands included as part of the log.

interrupt <core> <action> <interrupt>

trace <name> <addr> <size>

Trace a variable. Provide the name, address and size to trace. The size will determine the number of bytes to trace and the type of integer conversion.

Any bus access to the given address will be reported to the console.

The variable will be traced to the VCD log file if the trace command is issued before the simulation is started.

trace <var>

Trace a variable. The symbol will be looked up and traced according to the above command.

VCD Logging

Trace the processor internals with VCD. This can be viewed with GTKWave and many commercial tools.

The following are traced: