In embedded software development, virtualization comprises the early execution of testing, validation, and calibration by simulating the object under test and / or its environment without necessarily having the complete target hardware available. By deploying virtualization technology, the design and behavior of new systems can be analyzed in detail on the PC, using lab test benches and with HiL systems.

ETAS offers comprehensive virtualization solutions that enable customers to perform development tasks in virtual environments. In order to fully take advantage of virtualization’s potential, ETAS consultants begin with in-depth process analysis. By applying ETAS Solutions, customers are able to significantly increase the quality and efficiency of the development process and the actual software product.

Benefits of ETAS virtualization solutions

  • Comprehensive offer comprising open tools, models, engineering services, and consulting
  • Support of the complete development cycle
  • Based on many years of ETAS experience in model-based software development, software testing, validation, and calibration

ETAS virtualization solutions use advanced technologies for simulating and prototyping embedded controls and controlled systems. They allow for integration of physical components into the virtual environment and are deployed from the PC in the office, using test benches, or in test vehicles.

The ETAS Solutions for Virtual Validation video gives an overview on how ETAS tools are applied for testing and validating software via Model-in-the-Loop (MiL) and Software-in-the-Loop (SiL) setups throughout all development phases.

Early testing, validation, and calibration


Virtualization technology enables early testing, validation, and calibration.

Testing and validation account for more than half of embedded system development costs. At the same time, process efficiency and product quality depend on test, validation, and calibration maturity.

The sooner errors are identified in the development process, the higher the savings regarding bug fixing and refactoring-related effort and cost. According to customer feedback, up to 80 % of all errors could be potentially detected by using virtualization technology. As a consequence, testing and validation activities should start as early in the process as possible. Furthermore, calibration work performed during the early development stages already contributes to a saving in expensive resources, for instance test benches and vehicles.

“Empirical rule of ten” – The cost of remedying a fault increases by a factor of 10 with every passing phase before it is detected.

In most cases, testing, validation, and calibration still require target hardware and prototypes. To shorten the time between design and testing ETAS offers adequate tools and services that enable testing, validation, and calibration, independent from existing hardware. In this way, ETAS speeds up the whole development process and saves costs.

Virtualization applied during development

Virtualization applied during development

Virtualization facilitates efficient evaluation of new concepts and designs because it is independent from target hardware or prototypes.

Detailed investigation of system behavior, including complex cross-domain functions, is possible starting as early as the design stage.

Application of virtualization at system level

For embedded software developers, the hardware independence provided via virtual environments offers a major advantage. Long before target hardware or prototypes are available, functions, individual software components, as even the complete software can be tested and validated when integrated on a virtual control unit. In a PC’s virtual environment, debugging and error reproduction can be performed much faster than on electronic control units (ECU). Time consuming procedures such as flash programming can be avoided completely.

Application of virtualization on ECU software level

Using virtual environments facilitates improved cooperation for all parties involved during the different phases of the development process – developers, integrators, and testers as well as manufacturers and suppliers can work more closely together without losing focus or compromising data protection.

With ESCRYPT, ETAS is able to integrate encryption technology into its solutions to enable a secure exchange of data, software components, models, or test cases between manufacturers and suppliers.

Standards and Initiatives

Standards and Initiatives

Co-simulation of various domain models using FMI-conformant interfaces

ETAS actively participates in the standardization bodies and initiatives driving virtualization, including ASAM, AUTOSAR, the FMI Advisory Committee, ProSTEP iViP, and Virtual Vehicle.

ASAM defines tool interfaces in order to ease the exchange of data in the development process. ASAM standards comprise protocols, data models, file formats, and application programming interfaces (APIs) used for testing, validation, and calibration of automotive electronic control units (ECUs).

AUTOSAR provides specifications supporting a common automotive software architecture, including the standardization of ECU basic software.

Functional Mock-up Interface (FMI), hosted by the Modelica Association, supports model exchange and co-simulation of dynamic models from different software systems. As a member of the FMI Advisory Committee, ETAS is driving the FMI standardization to further open up tooling for virtual environments.

The international association ProSTEP iViP is committed to developing innovative solutions and modern standards for product data management and virtual product creation. Its Smart Systems Engineering working group focuses on cross-disciplinary and cross-enterprise model exchange.

VIRTUAL VEHICLE is an international research and development center that deals with application-oriented vehicle development and future vehicle concepts for road and rail. Key areas are the combined approach to numerical simulation and experimental validation as well as system simulation up to the complete vehicle.

XiL approach

XiL in embedded software and system development

By applying simulation technologies at different abstraction levels, several closed-loop testing setups can be realized:

  • Model-in-the-Loop (MiL)
  • Software-in-the-Loop (SiL)
  • Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL)

ETAS XiL approach

The ETAS XiL approach summarizes these setups and comprises the following concept:   

  • XiL (X-in-the-Loop): with X representing any control model, software, or hardware under test
  • XiL stands for MiL, SiL, or HiL testing environments
  • XiL strives for seamless transition between MiL, SiL, HiL, and the physical environments by reusing models, tests, data, and tools

By integrating hardware components, XiL allows the validation of newly designed control functions on a prototyping system in the vehicle or the combination of virtual and physical ECUs.


ETAS offers tools to apply virtualization methods in all development phases:

  • Model-based software development with ASCET
  • Prototyping of control functions with INTECRIO
  • Validation and pre-calibration of Simulink® control models on the PC with INCA plus INCA-SIP and INTECRIO-RLINK
  • Guided and automated calibration with INCA using INCA-FLOW
  • Generation of accurate data-based models and optimization of complex system behavior with ETAS ASCMO

The ETAS tool chain is open and complies with standards.

Consulting & Engineering Services


By reducing development effort and increasing quality at the same time, virtualization offers huge potential for an increase in efficiency. To realize these improvements, customized solutions are required that take individual development strategies, process landscapes, and tool environments into consideration.

ETAS consulting services offer broad expertise in developing automotive systems and software to enable customers to fully leverage the potential of virtualization in terms of optimizing development processes, methods, and tool environments.

Engineering Services

ETAS offers bespoke engineering services worldwide for specifying, customizing, and integrating solutions at the customer’s preferred location, and provides training for customers regarding their solution’s operation.

To ensure that ETAS virtualization solutions best fit customer requirements, a key element of the ETAS service portfolio includes the integration of solutions into the existing environment, including third-party tools and models.

Virtualization – Products