C O M P U T E R   E M U L A T I O N
Aaron Kaluszka
14 Dec 2001

Many of the earliest emulators were developed in order for computers to interact like terminals on other machines. These applications are taken for granted on today's Internet. Applications, such as Telnet, are terminal emulators that are included as standard applications of operating systems, such as Windows and MacOS.

Computer emulators are widely gaining use in the commercial realm. Many people use computer emulators without even realizing it. A DOS emulator is integrated into Windows NT (2000 and XP). A classic 680k Macintosh emulator is built into MacOS on all PowerPC Macintosh machines. Companies, such as VMWare, are marketing software that allows you to run a virtual machine on your real machine. This enables people to use other operating systems without needing to reboot. Other companies are marketing software that enables PC users to run Macintosh software and vice versa. Linux also has a wide variety of emulators, such as WINE, which enable users to run Windows applications.

As computer designs become more advanced, emulation will be used to maintain backward compatibility instead of requiring the building of new designs on existing hardware. For example, Transmeta Corp. created a completely new microprocessor design that runs as an Intel x86 chip using an emulator in firmware. This enables Transmeta to create new faster designs without worrying about compatibility with existing software. In addition, power consumption is reduced as the software can dynamically alter how it functions to best manage power. Major microprocessors contain a feature called In Circuit Emulation (ICE), which allows designers to debug the design of a chip.

2001, Aaron Kaluszka. All Rights Reserved.