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Emerging future smart grids will substantially increase the sophistication and diversity of control, communications, and power systems technologies. While many of these technologies are well established in their particular area, the interactions that result when combining them into a fully functioning cyber-physical system can result in many unexpected behaviors. Therefore, appropriate test platforms will become necessary to evaluate the performance of these systems in order to reveal unintended and potentially harmful interactions between subsystems before deploying such technologies in the field. In this paper, we discuss the design and development of a testbed to evaluate various smart-grid based control technologies through the use of controller hardware-in-the-Ioop real-time simulation. In particular, the focus of this testbed is to examine various “intelligent” and distributed control algorithms. The relevance of the testbed is illustrated through a case-study of a smart-grid solution known as the Distributed Grid Intelligence (DGI), which is part of the Future Renewable Electrical Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) project. In this case-study, we describe the impacts of various interactions such as communication timings, available computational resources, and distribution and decentralization of higher-level control on a microgrid's operations. Based on the case study, this paper concludes with recommendations for future expansion and improvements to the test bed in order to better serve the smart grid research community.