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Breaking The Three Laws
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    Breaking the Three Laws is dedicated to discussing technically challenging ASIC prototyping problems and sharing solutions.
  • About the Author

    Michael (Mick) Posner joined Synopsys in 1994 and is currently Director of Product Marketing for Synopsys' FPGA-Based Prototyping Solutions. Previously, he has held various product marketing, application consultant and technical marketing manager positions at Synopsys. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the University of Brighton, England.

Archive for the 'Admin and General' Category

Ice Cream with Raspberry Pi for Remote System Connectivity

Posted by Michael Posner on 15th February 2014

Engineering departments can no longer afford the luxury of all team members being located in the same office. The term global localization is used to describe how a team is split up over multiple geographies but must function as one unified entity. This is not only true for the personnel but also for the tools they use including FPGA-based prototyping hardware. While every software engineering in the world wishes for a high performance prototype directly on their desk typically logistically and financially this is not possible. FPGA-based prototyping systems must support this capability to ensure they can be accessed from anywhere around the world.

The HAPS series of FPGA-based prototyping systems support remote access via the HAPS Universal Multi-Resource Bus, or HAPS UMRBus for short.

The HAPS UMRBus enables the users to remotely access the HAPS system, configure it, monitor it and basically love it from a distance. The HAPS UMRBus enables much more than just remote access! The HAPS UMRBus enables data streaming to and from the system for test case stimuli or debug, advance use modes such as Hybrid Prototyping and transaction based validation and provides a generic API for user capability extensions. The HAPS UMRBus is able to deliver these additional capabilities because it’s a very high bandwidth, low latency connection from a host machine to the HAPS system.

The HAPS-70 series offers this high performance HAPS UMRBus and an integrated HAPS UMRBus over a lower performance USB 2.0 standard interface. The recommendation is that if you only needed remote connectivity for configuration and monitoring then use the HAPS UMRBus over USB 2.0 interface. If you needed high performance and low latency for Hybrid Prototyping and the other advanced capabilities then utilize the high performance HAPS UMRBus. Great right………………… Enter global localization…..

Our customers love that HAPS systems can be remotely accesses as it enables them to utilize the systems 24/7, 365 days a year (HAPS don’t even get Christmas off). However they like to lock them up along with their server hardware or in a data center. Some customers have dedicated hosts serving the HAPS which enables them to utilize the high performance, low latency HAP UMRBus and all the advanced capabilities. However, others just want to utilize the remote access via the HAPS UMRBus over USB 2.0 and while they have thousands upon thousands of Ethernet drops available they rarely have a host which they can plug the USB 2.0 cable into. So what are these users to do?

Enter the Raspberry Pi (see the blog title was not a typo but I bet the engineers already knew that)

To enable our customers to plug the HAPS system directly into an Ethernet hub one of our engineers came up with the great idea to utilize the off-the-shelf Raspberry Pi.

How it works: You buy a Raspberry Pi, USB cable, power supply and SD card, this is going to set you back around $50 (yep, not a typo, $50 and that’s usually a top of the range one). You then contact Synopsys HAPS support and we will provide you with a boot image to load on the SD card. The boot image is a standard Raspberry Pi OS with the HAPS remote access utilities, called HAPS Confpro, pre-installed. Next connect the USB cable between the Raspberry Pi and the HAPS-70 (or HAPS-DX) system. Finally connect the Raspberry Pi’s Ethernet connection into the Ethernet hub/switch and power it up. We recommend assigning a defined IP address to the Raspberry Pi so the HAPS system it’s connected to can be easily recognized. That’s it, you are ready to access the HAPS system remotely. I personally love this solution as it not only solves the problem but also lends itself for further capability expansion in the future. More on the expansion capabilities in a future blog….

What do you use the Raspberry Pi for?

Posted in Admin and General, Debug, Project management | Comments Off

Call to Action: Wiki FPGA-Based Prototyping Page Needs Content!

Posted by Michael Posner on 11th July 2013

While surfing the web I ran across the Wikipedia pages on FPGA-Based Prototyping, which they call FPGA Prototypes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FPGA_prototype Unbiased content is much needed for this page. Synopsys recently made a couple of updates implementing some quick fixes but what it really needs is some real users to update the article.

I know there are many FPGA-Based Prototyping experts out there, put this talent to even more use and update the Wiki page. If you comment below and let me know you have updated the page I’ll be happy to send you one of my Subaru piston paper weights that for some strange reason no one has claimed yet.

Off subject (as usual) it’s been surprisingly warm here in Oregon. With the nice weather I moved the two bouldering walls that I built to the outer part of my patio. The kids love to climb around on them and having them next to the big planter boxes that I built make for additional climbing challenges.

Posted in Admin and General, FPGA-Based Prototyping, Getting Started | Comments Off

Jim Hogan falls prey to HAPS cloak of invisibility

Posted by Michael Posner on 29th April 2013

I used to own a Ford F350 truck and it was huge with the long wheel base, full bed, extended crew cab measuring a length of about 25 feet (8 meters). The problem was that it came installed with a cloak of invisibility. I didn’t know it had a cloak of invisibility when I purchased but soon after while driving it down the freeway (motorway) a small car merged into the side of me. Unsurprisingly I won that battle and when I asked the other driver how it happened they responded “I didn’t see you”. Wait a second my truck is 25 feet long and that day I was towing a 25 feet long fully enclosed car hauler meaning I was over 50 feet long. How do you not see that…….. That’s when I realized that this truck came with the unadvertised cloak of invisibility option.

So what has this got to do with Jim Hogan you all ask….. well read on and find out.

The cloak of invisibility must be an undocumented feature of the HAPS product line as Jim Hogan wrote a complete article on emulation with mention of prototyping and managed not to mention HAPS once (well ok, once but that was in a table and that was the only mention). I should state that I do not know Jim personally and hold nothing against him. Jim’s article was pretty good but I am afraid I have to personally doubt the credibility of the data when the highest quality and most well-known FPGA-Based Prototyping product, HAPS, didn’t get a proper mention. Jim what were you thinking!!!!  Jim’s article focused on emulation but draws reference to FPGA-Based prototyping a number of times which is why I think HAPS should have been included in the article.

I have to believe that this omission was due to the undocumented HAPS cloak of invisibility. Jim; contact me and let’s solve this mystery.

What also got me all riled up was the following;

  • All FPGA-based solutions are “Emulators”

Not so! Jim included FPGA-based prototypes in the discussion – referring to them as “low-capacity emulators” (and never mentioned HAPS). Emulators focus on Verification providing a high level of automation and debug.  FPGA-based prototypes focus on Validation providing the high performance needed for software development and system validation with real world IO. I’ve blogged about the differences in the past (here).  Below is a recap of that incredible blog with simple graphics

I love the above analogy. You own both but depending on the task at hand you pick the right tool for the job.

The following simplifies the difference between Verification and Validation. While they both start with the letter V the goals are very difference which is why both emulation and prototyping play an important part of an SoC’s development.

Oh, I should also apologize for being tardy on my blog post this time around. I’ve been traveling a lot and when weighing up either writing a blog or sleeping, sleep always won.

Posted in Admin and General, ASIC Verification, FPGA-Based Prototyping, Humor | Comments Off

Don’t Forget SNUG SJC !!!!

Posted by Michael Posner on 22nd March 2013

Don’t forget SNUG SJC


Mingle with over 2500 over engineers just like you (But of course you are the best)

Posted in Admin and General, FPGA-Based Prototyping | Comments Off

SNUG and FPGA Debug

Posted by Michael Posner on 8th March 2013

This week, I have mostly been eating sushi.

Did you notice my blog title rhymed, SNUG and FPGA Debug, I thought that was pretty catchy.

 Alert, SNUG Silicon Valley is approaching fast, March 25th – 27th. http://www.synopsys.com/Community/SNUG/Silicon%20Valley/pages/default.aspx I’m personally not going to be able to make it down this year so I need you, my readers, to attend and then tell me all about it. There is a dedicated FPGA-based prototyping track and an FPGA implementation track.

 FPGA-Based Prototyping Track Highlights

  • FPGA-Based Prototyping: My BFF FPGA-Based Prototyping Solution: Better, Faster, and Flexible
  • Bring-up and Debug of FPGA-based prototypes: Pest Control, Hunt Down Bugs Like the Experts
  • Hybrid Prototyping 101

 FPGA Track Highlights

  • Designing with Xilinx 7 Series FPGAs: The Essentials for an Integrated Synplify-Vivado Design Flow Targeting Xilinx 7 Series FPGAs
  • Maximizing Productivity on Large FPGA Designs: Methodologies and Techniques for Maximizing Productivity on Large FPGA Designs
  • Synthesis Methods for FPGA-Based Prototyping

While I’m unable to go to the SNUG Silicon Valley event I’m planning on making a special appearance at SNUG UK.

On another note, did you miss the recent live web seminar on “10 ways to debug your FPGA design”? Well if you did don’t worry, the recorded version is available here: https://event.on24.com/eventRegistration/prereg/register.jsp?eventid=579541&sessionid=1&key=1319D5CFF949C3FDAA3F860D951BE1F1&cmp=WEBR-fpga100204-HPW I highly recommend it and it’s presented by Angela Sutton who is an expert in the field.

Yummy sushi picture just for fun.

I’m working on a deep technical blog posting for next week. Well when I say working on I really mean I’ve got an idea for one I just need to formulate my thoughts. Lets see if I can wrangle them by next week.

Posted in Admin and General, FPGA-Based Prototyping, FPMM Methods, Getting Started, Humor, Tips and Traps | Comments Off

FPMM, Live and Face-to-Face

Posted by Doug Amos on 24th August 2011

Blimey, there are a lot of prototypers out there!

The FPMM was released worldwide in March 2011 and already over 2,500 paper and ebook versions of the FPMM have been taken by prototypers worldwide. The feedback has been really encouraging so many, many thanks to all our readers!

As another way to bring prototypers together in order to further share best practices, FPMM originators, Synopsys and Xilinx, along with new prototyping partner National Instruments, are running a series of FPMM workshops. These workshops have already started and will take place at major locations throughout the world until February 2012.

Agenda items of note include . . .

  • Keynote: “Best Practices in Design-for-Prototyping
    • Why FPGA-based prototyping methodology is important to your success
    • The latest technologies and tools for FPGA-based prototyping
  • User experiences and discussion
  • Hands-on lab: advanced scripts and methods to improve prototyping
  • Live demos of prototyping technology from National Instruments, Synopsys and Xilinx
  • Integrating prototyping more closely within SoC project aims

For me, however, the most important thing is that prototypers get a chance to network and share ideas and best practices; starting a conversation that we can continue online at the FPMM forums and here on the blog. I look forward to meeting many new prototyping friends at every FPMM workshop, perhaps at one near you. Your fellow prototypers will be grateful for your participation.

During the hands-on portion you will have the opportunity to put a proven FPGA-based prototyping methodology to work, focusing on design manipulations and useful scripts for prototype management. You will be using Synopsys tools but no prior experience is required.

Go here to learn more and to register. Numbers are limited by the number of workstations available at each venue so, as they always say, “register now to avoid disappointment”. No, I really mean it.

See you at the workshop!


If you would like to learn more about the FPGA-Based Prototyping Methodology Manual, or to download a copy visit www.synopsys.com/fpmm

Posted in Admin and General, ASIC Verification, FPGA-Based Prototyping, Getting Started | 2 Comments »

FPMM: this changes everything :-)

Posted by Doug Amos on 2nd March 2011

Apparently, there was some kind of announcement today about a tablet computer or something like that. At the same time, there has been another announcement today and here is the summary….

Xilinx and Synopsys have collaborated with numerous end-users to create the first methodology for prototyping. called the FPGA-Based Prototyping Methodology Manual, or FPMM for short.

You can get hold of an electronic copy of the for free at www.synopsys.com/fpmm (you’ll need a Solvnet ID for now) or if you can get along to DVCon, San Jose today, we’d be happy to give you a signed paperback copy. If you’re not in the area then look for it on amazon.com, (not free I’m afraid).

But, even more important than the simple manual is the new online community for prototypers (also at www.sysnopsys.com/fpmm) . We are very grateful to those practitioners who have joined us in creating the FPMM and we are all keen to enable further conversation and information exchange between prototypers worldwide. Come an join in, there’s a very simple registration process but after that, the forums are wide open.

Looking forward to sharing more about the FPMM soon and helping to give prototyping its proper place in the SoC design team.


p.s. Actually, we love iPad and lately have been using it to test out the eBook version of the FPMM. looking good on the kindle too.

Posted in Admin and General, FPGA-Based Prototyping | Comments Off

From first post to “last post”

Posted by Doug Amos on 10th February 2011

I suppose that every blog must start with high hopes and ambitions. Some achieve them but many do not. From the first post of bright dreams shared, to the “last post” metaphorically sounded by the lone bugle of a years-out-of-date comment, can seem a daunting slope.

So why is this blog going to be any different?

Because it is the blog of the prototypers, by the prototypers, for the prototypers (to our American friends, please pardon a couple of Brits paraphrasing the Gettysburg address).

Massed behind the banner of this blog is a host of silent experts; not only within Synopsys but across a wide number of companies and institutions.

In the labs of the world, teams are using FPGAs to create a temporary version of their design for verification purposes. They do it using a huge variety of methods, tools and platforms but with the same general aim of creating the fastest, most-accurate pre-silicon models of their design. Then, mostly, they give them to software engineers to use, but that’s another story for another post.

For Mick and I, the aim of this blog is clear; to be an amplifier for the voices of those prototypers, to share news of ideas and methods that effect prototypers our day-to-day activities and along the way, maybe we can make the rest of the SoC community sit up and take more notice of us.

We will  be welcoming guest bloggers, and we will discuss many concepts and methods and look forward to reading your comments in reply. In the meantime, watch for big news for prototypers everywhere very soon.

Oh, and we’ll also explain the  blog’s weird title.

In the meantime, we would love to hear from you.



Posted in Admin and General, FPGA-Based Prototyping | Comments Off