Emulator

What Does Emulator Mean?

An emulator is a hardware device or software program that enables one computer system (also known as a host) to imitate the functions of another computer system (known as the guest). It enables the host system to run software, tools, peripheral devices and other components which are designed for the guest system. Emulators can be of different types, replicating things such as hardware, software, OS or CPU. However, in most cases hardware architecture is emulated to provide an environment similar to a guest system.

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Techopedia Explains Emulator

An emulator regenerates an original computer environment with the help of software and hardware. The process of creating an authentic emulator is complex and time consuming. But once created, it provides the authenticity of the original computer environment/digital object without the need for the original system.

Emulation techniques are applied to re-create the hardware and software environment of a computer system on a different machine. Once the emulator is complete, users can access applications or the OS on the emulated system and the original software can run on the host system. To the users, the experience is the same as if they were using the original guest system.

Emulators are usually composed of three components:

  • CPU emulator (the most complex part)
  • Memory sub-system emulator
  • Different input/output device emulators
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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.