Emulator vs Simulator

Padma Gnanapriya
Nov 2, 2020 · 3 min read
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If you’re an android developer or work multi-OS without dual boot, you have heard emulator. If you are IOs developer you have heard simulators.

But what is an emulator and what is a simulator?

Simulators and emulators are similar in many ways, and also have differences between them. If you want to make the very most of each type of software testing tool, it’s important to understand what makes simulators different from emulators, and why you’d choose to use one or the other. Fist of all we should have a clear idea about emulation and simulation.

⭕ Emulation refers to the ability of a computer program in an electronic device to emulate (or imitate) another program or device.
⭕ A simulation is an approximate imitation of the operation of a process or system; that represents its operation over time. Simulation is used in many contexts, such as simulation of technology for performance tuning or optimizing, safety engineering, testing, training, education, Andrew video games. — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation

Emulators

Pros of use Emulator rather than a real device.
⭕ We can save our money instead of buying real devices. Most emulators are open and free to download.
⭕ It is safer to test any code.
⭕ It is easy to use. Need not physical connections.

Cons of use Emulator rather than a real device.
⭕ We can’t finger out many issues. (Touchscreen issues, colour contrast, battery whether battery drain issues happen, network blocks, computation delays.)
⭕ It can’t emulate some of the real-time data and communications. (GPS, sensors, gestures, touch force, camera, call, SMS).

Android emulator, Galaxy emulator, Quick Emulator (QEMU) are some of the widely used emulators for software testing. EMU8086 emulates the 8086 microprocessor on your computer, which obviously is not running on 8086, but the output it gives is what a real 8086 would give.

Simulator

The simulator mimics the activity of something that it is simulating. It appears to be the same as the thing being simulated. For example, the flight simulator “appears” to be a real flight to the user, although it does not transport you from one place to another.

Comparison between Emulators vs Simulators

Emulators

  • Emulators are more suitable when it comes to debugging purpose.
    ( Use for Unit testing, automation testing, debugging.)
  • The emulator aims at emulating or mimicking as close as possible the outer behaviour of an object
  • Emulators are preferable whenever the testing team needs to test the mobile’s external behaviour like calculating, making transactions, and so forth.
  • Emulators are written in machine-level assembly languages.
  • Slower due to latency since it involves binary translation.

Simulators

  • The simulators can be difficult in terms of debugging purpose. (use for Unit testing, automation testing)
  • Simulator’s objective is to simulate the internal state of an object as close as possible to the internal state of an object.
  • Simulators are preferable whenever the testing team needs to test the mobile’s internal behaviour like its internal hardware, firmware, and so forth.
  • Simulators are written in high-level languages.
  • Faster compared to emulators.

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Padma Gnanapriya

Written by

Software Engineering undergraduate at University of Kelaniya.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +752K people. Follow to join our community.

Padma Gnanapriya

Written by

Software Engineering undergraduate at University of Kelaniya.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +752K people. Follow to join our community.

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