Best MCU Simulation Software

MCU simulation software is a good tool for understanding the hardware without needing the actual hardware.

In some situations, like if you have a lot of people you want to teach and they all need to buy the hardware to teach, it sometimes creates a hurdle, especially when students get trained.

Suppose the MCU simulation software is reliable and easy to use. In that case, one can also learn the MCU platform using MCU simulation software while the actual hardware is unavailable or you are waiting for it to arrive.

Best MCU Simulation Software 1

Do you know if any MCU Simulation software is available?

I tried to find this answer recently while searching for Electronic Circuit Simulators.

Sometimes, you want to quickly simulate your op-amp circuit, power supply circuit, or some analogue portion of the project by doing simulations and not wanting to do hardware design and wait for the proto boards to arrive to start the testing.

I found a couple of MCU simulators that could be used, and here is a list for easy access.

When I started learning Microchip PIC Programming (2007 timeframe), I used PIC16F877/PICF873 MCUs, and as I didn’t have access to hardware at home, I found the Oshonsoft PIC MCU Simulation software. I used to practice programming on that. The free version had the limitation of working only for 2 minutes. After that, it will need to be restarted, but that worked for me during my learning phase.

I hope some of you will find it useful. If you know of any other MCU Simulation software, please let me know in the comments below, and I will add it to the list.

Sr. No.MCU Simulation Software / Website linkSupported MCUs
1.Proteus VSM (Free / Paid)8051, AVR, PIC, NXP LPC21xx, Arduino
2.Oshonsoft (Free / Paid)AVR, PIC, Z80, 8085
3.TINA (Free / Paid)AVR, PIC, 8051, HCS08, ARM, Infineon, ARM Sitara, STM32, TI TIVA, Arduino
4.SimulIDE (Free)PIC, AVR, Arduino
5.WOKWI (Free)Arduino, ESP32, Raspberry Pi PICO
6.PICSIMLab (Free)Microchip PIC, AVR, STM32(experimental)
7.EDGEY Virtual BreadBoard (Free / Paid)Arduino
8.TinkerCAD Circuits (Free)Arduino
9.HTE 8051 Simulator (Free / Paid)8051
10.EdSIM (Free)8051
11.BiPOM Electronics 8051 Simulator (Free / Paid)8051

Many Microcontroller Development Environment IDEs also provide basic MCU simulation setups built like Keil, IAR, Segger IDE, etc. Please check them out as well.

Before you select an MCU simulator, you must also understand that there are limitations; nothing is perfect or ideal.

Some of the main limitations of MCU simulation software available in the market:

  • Accuracy: The accuracy of the simulation depends on the accuracy of the models used for the microcontroller and the components it is connected to. These models are often simplified to reduce the computational complexity of the simulation. As a result, the simulation results may not be perfectly accurate.
  • Complexity: MCU simulation can be computationally expensive, especially for large and complex systems. This can limit the size and complexity of the systems that can be simulated.
  • Time: MCU simulation can take a long time, especially for large and complex systems. This can make it difficult to simulate systems that must be analyzed in real-time.
  • Skill: MCU simulation requires a certain level of skill and knowledge to use effectively. Engineers need to understand the principles of microcontroller design and operation to use microcontroller simulation effectively.
  • Assumptions: MCU simulation is based on assumptions about the microcontroller and its connected components. If these assumptions are not valid, then the simulation results may not be accurate.
  • Model availability: Not all microcontrollers have accurate models available for microcontroller simulation. This can limit the accuracy of the simulation results.

In addition to the limitations mentioned above, microcontroller simulation software may also have the following limitations:

  • Cost: Microcontroller simulation software can be expensive, especially for high-end software.
  • License: MCU simulation software may require a license, which can be an additional cost.
  • Availability: Not all microcontroller simulation software is available for all platforms.
  • Support: Microcontroller simulation software may not have as much support as other types of software, such as circuit simulators.

It is important to consider these limitations when using microcontroller simulation software. By understanding the limitations, engineers can use microcontroller simulation software more effectively and get more accurate results.

Here are some tips for overcoming the limitations of microcontroller simulation software:

  • Use accurate models for the microcontroller and the components it is connected to.
  • Use a microcontroller simulator capable of handling the size and complexity of the system.
  • Use a sufficient amount of time for the simulation to run.
  • Use a skilled engineer to run the simulation.
  • Make sure that the assumptions used in the simulation are valid.
  • Use models available for the microcontroller and the components it is connected to.
  • Use an affordable simulator with a license that fits your needs.
  • Make sure that the simulator is available for the platform you are using.
  • Check the support options available for the simulator.

By following these tips, engineers can overcome the limitations of microcontroller simulation software and use it to design better systems.

I hope you found this post useful.

If you have any feedback, you can share it in the comments section or contact me directly.

Read more interesting articles on Embedded Systems Design.

If you need help with custom-embedded product development, contact me.

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