LDRA extends tool suite with certification validation for Altera Nios II soft core processors

MONKS FERRY, U.K., 2 Feb. 2012. The LDRA tool suite from LDRA--maker of standards compliance, automated software verification, source code analysis and test tools--now supports direct integration with Altera's Embedded Design Suite (EDS) for Nios II soft core processors.

"Achieving certification is no easy task," Ian Hennell, LDRA operations director, confirms. "The LDRA tool suite features templates tailored to specific industry and programming standards," Hennell says. "These are delivered pre-populated with standard requirements, simplifying compliance for developers. LDRA's verification strengths combined with a cost-reduced platform such as Nios II lower the cost of embedded systems in industries such as automotive, medical, and avionics, where such applications are ideal."

Processors previously lacked sufficient CPU and memory to be used in avionics; however, with the Nios II family, entire chip sets can be replaced with an Altera FPGA, making them well suited to applications that must be certified. LDRA's integration helps to ensure that standards, such as DO-178B/C, MISRA and IEC 61508, can be verified and validated directly when using these soft-core processors.

To achieve integration, LDRA takes advantage of Nios II tool chain characteristics. Using the GNU GCC tool chain and Eclipse IDE to program the Nios II, developers can take advantage of soft-core processors previously only available on ASICs with custom chip sets, says a spokesperson. LDRA leverages the host I/O capability of the GCC tool chain to create unit and system tests that transfer data back into the host processor seamlessly. Within the Eclipse environment, tests can be automated to load and execute, saving time during verification.

By using the LDRA tool suite, companies gain the validation tools necessary to ensure that a software application produced on a Nios II platform is certifiable. Since FPGA-based, soft-core processors achieve significant cost savings over custom hard core processors, both in actual cost and the reduced amount of board design, the LDRA integration provides increased market opportunities for mission- and safety-critical developers wanting to take advantage of this Altera processor family, adds the spokesperson.

The LDRA tool suite offers independent verification support across the development life cycle from certification objectives of standards, such as DO-178B/C, IEC 61508, ISO 26262, and IEC 62304, to requirements, code, and target testing.

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