Difference Between Emulator and Simulator

Emulator and Simulator are two terms mostly used synonymously in the universe of computer testing. Though many similarities are there, emulators and simulators have notable differences.

Before using them are software testing tools, one should know the differences between them.

Emulator vs Simulator

The difference between emulator and simulator is, an emulator consists of assembly languages for programme writing and they do not require to imitate the properties of the production environment of the hardware feature.

Emulator vs Simulator

Emulators and simulators are tools used for the testing of a software within an environment that is defined by software and are flexible. Emulators and simulators are more effective, fast, and user-friendly testing tools that provide a better atmosphere for software testing than hardware devices.

Because of these merits, they are extensively used in software testing, that leaves the need for hardware testing of the software only just before the releasing stage of the final product. Though emulators and simulators are used for the same purpose, there are distinguished differences between them.

Simulators work by generating software environments with top-level programming languages and they might include every variable of the software as well as every configuration of it from the production environment of the application in production.


Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonEmulatorSimulator
DefinitionEmulator is a hardware or software that permits a host system function as a guest system to test its features.Simulator is a software system that can copy the functioning features of applications and processes.
ObjectiveTo imitate the external status of an object.To simulate the internal features of an object.
LanguageMachine level assembly languageHigh-level programme language
Mode of functioningMimicking the operating systems, hardware, and software of mobile devices,Mimicking the internal behaviour of the device. It cannot mimic hardware features.
Performance speedSlowFaster than emulators


What is Emulator?

An emulator is a device that can either be software or hardware, that supports a host computer system to mimic the functions of a guest system. Utilizing an emulator, a host system can run and check the functions of the software, peripheral devices, tools and other similar components.

There are different types of emulators available to replicate software, hardware, operating systems or central processing units. An emulator can recreate the atmosphere of the original computer employing hardware and software.

Though the process of making an emulator is tedious and time-consuming, after the creation it can give an authentic environment that does not need the original system. The technique of emulation is used to replicate hardware and software atmosphere of a computer system on another machine.

After the completion of an emulator, users can achieve the applications or the operating system on the system, that is emulated. For a user, there won’t be much differences when using the emulated system from their original guest system.

The major components of a typical emulator are CPU emulator, different output/input device emulators and memory sub-system emulator.

IBM is the first to develop the concept of computer emulation for running programmes for their older devices in advanced models. Emulators provide the flexibility to manufacturers to ensure built-in compatibility with older applications.

Today, the video game is one field that is utilizing the possibility of emulators to a large extent.

The technique of emulation is related to the idea of virtualization. Virtual machines are emulators that can work on the support of the underlying hardware of the host system.

Most software  out in the market are platform-specific. So, when you require an application meant for another platform than your current one, with the help of an emulator you can use them without changing or purchasing the other platform that runs the application.

Android studio emulator is an example of an emulator.


What is Simulator?

A simulator is a machine or a computer program that provides simulations to applications. Simulations is a technique for executing a model over time.

Simulators come handier when you aim to ensure the performance of the application as expected in their interactions with external operating systems or environments.

When you require to test the ability of an application for sending data to another application, a simulated environment  will make the best platform for performing it.

Simulators are accurate for ensuring the display of the interface of an application is the same in different screen resolutions.

A simulator gives a quick and simpler means to create a software environment for the testing of applications without replicating the related hardware.

Simulators have more uses other than application testing such as mathematical modelling, in the field of medicine, technological development, etc.

Electronic device simulators and flight simulators are examples of simulators.


Main Differences Between Emulator and Simulator

  1. The main difference between Emulator and Simulator is that when an emulator has the basis of machine-level assembly language, simulators have the support of high-level machine language.
  2. Emulators are capable to replicate both software and hardware where simulators only mimic software and they cannot mimic hardware.
  3. Emulator can enable a system to function as another system whereas simulators help find and avoid the risk factors related to an application.
  4. The performance of an emulator is very slow whereas a simulator can function with a higher speed.
  5. When emulators imitate the external status of an object, a simulator can imitate its internal features.
Difference Between Emulator and Simulator


  1. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-an-emulator-4687005
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/computer_simulation.htm
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