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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 'In-System Software Validation' Category

Valuable Software Drive Validation

Posted by Michael Posner on 6th March 2015

Software Driven Verification of a CMOS sensor encoder design using Hybrid Prototyping

Software driven validation is becoming very popular as it enables the same SW code you are developing for the final product to be used to verify the product under development. This has multiple benefits such as reduced verification effort from minimizing duplicated effort to create test scenarios in addition to writing the actual SW code. It also flushes out more bugs as you are running the real SW code, or close to it, to verify the design under test so inherently it’s covering much of the user space. So why is not everyone verifying designs like this?

While you can use co-simulation and run SW code against an RTL model it’s going to be slow as the RTL executes in the simulator magnitudes slower than real hardware. The benefit is that you get great RTL debug in this mode. Emulation helps as it’s magnitudes faster than simulation but what if the design requires a physical hardware driver or the design interfaces requires real world input such as from a sensor? Not to worry, this is exactly what HAPS Hybrid Prototyping was designed for.

Review the picture above. On the left hand side the customer used a Virtual Prototype of a ARM Cortex-A15 to run Linux, drivers and firmware. This Virtual Prototype is executing on Synopsys’ Virtualizer platform. On the right hand side the customer implemented their sensor and encoder subsystem on the HAPS FPGA-based prototyping platform. The physical prototype included the design under test RTL as well as physical daughter boards to enable the real CMOS sensor to be used to “feed” the design.

In the middle is the key to Hybrid Prototyping, the transactor. Transactors translate the high level transactors to real protocol based pin-toggles in the RTL. In this HAPS Hybrid Prototype the software running on Virtualizer instructs the design running on HAPS to grab an image from the CMOS sensor. This real world data is process by the DUT then transferred onto the Virtual prototype, just like it would in a real system for further processing. The output image and any artifacts of the manipulation can be viewed from this host side.

The customer was able to accelerate the verification of the DUT by weeks using Synopsys’ Hybrid Prototyping. The customer continued to use this platform extending the their early software development efforts resulting in greater quality and capabilities in preparation for the test chip. But there is more… The environment was setup is immediately re-usable for other projects and designs under test. If you look at the Virtual side you can see that this subsystem should run all sorts of software code so can be loaded for multiple scenarios across multiple design targets. On the HAPS prototype side you can see that different design under test quickly plug into the standard AMBA bus infrastructure, even larger subsystems. Hybrid Prototyping is supported across all the HAPS hardware, HAPS-70 and HAPS-DX.

There are many off-the-shelf Virtualizer Virtual Development Kits (VDK’s) to start from. In addition on the physical prototype side the complete software infrastructure and transactors come neatly packaged in ProtoCompiler so no need to try and piece together lots of different parts.

HAPS ProtoCompiler. Includes all the software and transactor IP needed to deploy Hybrid Prototyoing for most ARM based designs

Hybrid Prototyping is highly valuable for design verification and system validation in addition to being easy to develop and deploy.

Posted in ASIC Verification, Early Software Development, HW/SW Integration, Hybrid Prototyping, In-System Software Validation, IP Validation, Real Time Prototyping, System Validation, Use Modes | No Comments »

Why Do You Prototype? If You Don’t Know I Can Tell You

Posted by Michael Posner on 30th January 2015

I was forwarded this user quote and I thought I would share as it was so heartwarming for me

The design came up on HAPS in less than two weeks and we found a rather serious bug early in testing.  This is the bug that would have cost the company dearly if it wasn’t found until later in the development cycle.

It’s short and sweet and communicates the HUGE value that FPGA-Based Prototyping delivers.  This note reminded me that a while back I did an internal analysis of the value of HAPS FPGA-based prototyping in respect to the various use modes. The use modes I examined was Functional Verification, HW/SW Integration, Firmware Development, System Validation and Software Development. First I created a baseline score for HAPS in respect to various user requirements. This list stays consistent across all use modes.

  • Early Availability
  • Initial Design Setup
  • Iteration Turnaround Time
  • Execution Speed
  • Capacity
  • Deployment (Ease of/Cost of)
  • Accuracy
  • HW Debug Visibility
  • SW Debug Visibility
  • IO

How the scoring works, 1 = Sub-Optimal, 10 = Excels. To score I created a set of definitions per requirement and using real data which compared the results to other technologies thus to objectively score. The scores are mapped into a radar chart. Here is the scoring baseline for HAPS. I should point out that its subjective but I tried to be as data driven as possible. If anything I might have been a little harsh on HAPS to be fair.

HAPS Value, baseline scoring in respect to capability strengths

At the same time and using the same list of requirements I scored the NEEDS of the use mode. For example the user needs for software development are pictured here. Note the dotted line.

Baseline requirements mapped into radar chart in respect to the needs of software development

The baseline needs were mapped for each of the desired use mode. Then it’s a simple case of overlaying the results of the baseline value score of HAPS against the use mode. It’s a multiplication of the value times the need. This way it clearly shows where there is synergy of a need and as strength.

Starting with Functional Verification

HAPS Values Mapped to the Functional Verification Use mode

Remember the dotted line represents the user needs within the use mode of functional verification and the solid line represents the relative strengths of HAPS. Within a radar chart it’s easy to see the matching requirements and HAPS strengths. It’s clear to see that while HAPS does bring value to functional verification it’s definitely not the best technology for the use case. Hey, we all knew this already. A simulator such as VCS or emulator such as ZeBu is a far better choice for functional verification as they deliver on the key needs of the use case such as early availability, debug visibility, capacity etc. But I also know that HAPS is used in this use mode as the performance enables a huge amount of tests to be run in a short amount of time flushing out those hard to find RTL bugs.

Now lets review the HW/SW Integration use mode

HAPS Values mapped into the HW/SW use mode

Immediately it’s clear that the value of HAPS FPGA-based prototyping is far better matched to the requirements for HW/SW Integration. HW/SW Integration is typically the point at which FPGA-based prototyping is deployed in development. As more and more RTL blocks are coming together and the volume of software has become significant then the additional performance that HAPS FPGA-based prototyping delivers is needed to execute in a reasonable timeframe.

Now onto Firmware Development

HAPS Values mapped against the needs for firmware development

FPGA-based prototyping enables the use of real physical interfaces using the real interface blocks such as DesignWare IP. This means that the hardware aware firmware development is a key use case for HAPS FPGA-Based prototyping and this is represented in how well the values match the use case needs. The real physical IO, actual RTL blocks combined with the high performance operation make HAPS FPGA-based prototypes one of the best firmware development platforms next to the real silicon. Actually I would be bold enough to say better than the real silicon as once you have silicon its too late to fix RTL bugs!

System Validation

HAPS Values mapped against the needs of system validation use mode

For the same reasons as firmware development it’s clear to see that HAPS FPGA-Based prototyping is the best technology to address the needs of System Validation use mode. In System validation you will be running lots of software against the hardware, doing interoperability and compliance testing against real hardware. No other technology enables you to do this, PRE-SILICON

Finally the software development use mode

HAPS Values mapped against the needs of software development

This is the traditional and most well know use mode for FPGA-based prototyping. Again the HAPS values map very well against the needs and requirements of Software Development. Really the only area in question is capacity. I thought it would be interesting to add the benefits of Hybrid Prototyping into the scoring for this particular use model.

HAPS Hybrid Prototyping mapped against the needs of Software development

Hybrid Prototyping, the combination of HAPS FPGA-based and Virtualizer Virtual Prototyping makes for a powerful platform for software development. Hybrid Prototyping combines the accuracy, performance and real world IO of HAPS with the capacity and differentiated debug capabilities of Virtualizer. I can tell you that a number of customers have adopted Hybrid Prototyping to improve their early software development activities. A number of these have been able to accelerate their software development and validation to a point where the software run on the real silicon on day one! Hey bonus, the green radar chart line looks like a fish, do you see it?

Anyway, there you go, the value of HAPS across multiple use modes. Is this consistent with your scoring of FPGA-based prototyping in respect to your project usage?

Posted in ASIC Verification, FPGA-Based Prototyping, HW/SW Integration, Hybrid Prototyping, In-System Software Validation, IP Validation, Milestones, Project management, Real Time Prototyping, System Validation, Use Modes | 2 Comments »

Coming To A Lab Soon: Xilinx VU440 FPGA Devices

Posted by Michael Posner on 16th January 2015

Xilinx Summary of the new UltraScale VU440 FPGA device capabilities for prototypers

In late 2013 I blogged about the newly announced Xilinx UltraScale devices, the VU440 specifically that will be the largest FPGA device on the market: http://blogs.synopsys.com/breakingthethreelaws/2013/12/xilinx-fpga%E2%80%99s-for-fpga-based-prototyping/

Well this week Xilinx officially announced that they have shipped the first samples of the VU440 devices: http://press.xilinx.com/2015-01-15-Xilinx-Delivers-the-Industrys-First-4M-Logic-Cell-Device-Offering-50M-Equivalent-ASIC-Gates-and-4X-More-Capacity-than-Competitive-Alternatives

Snippet from Xilinx Press release on the VU440 device and the fact that Synopsys received the first device samples

And check out who received the first of these samples…………………………… ok, you don’t need to read it, Synopsys did…….. We have optimized every generation of our HAPS prototyping systems for the highest system performance, greatest capacity while adding significant capabilities on top delivering prototyping specific features. We all know the FPGA device is a required component within the FPGA-based prototyping hardware but it’s not what defines or makes the solution useful. Anyone can slap an FPGA on a board but this does not help a prototyper as the device alone does not deliver the capabilities they require. Prototypers rely on a solution which includes a software implementation tool flow, integration between hardware and software accelerating time to operation, built in capabilities such as high speed pin multiplexing and high visibility debug to ease bug hunting while being modular and scalable. (side note: Synopsys offers exactly this…. just in case you didn’t know)

I recommend you also check out the VU440 demo video. It stars my friend Kirk from Xilinx who introduces the new device and the demo running ten ARM Cortex-A9 CPU’s, pretty impressive. http://www.xilinx.com/products/silicon-devices/fpga/virtex-ultrascale.html#uniquePlayer1

Over the coming weeks I’m going to focus my blogs on the capabilities that the new Xilinx UltraScale devices deliver and the impact they have to prototypers. As noted above, an FPGA alone does not deliver FPGA-based prototyping so I will discuss how the device capabilities are expected to be integrated and leveraged delivering a solution.

Oh, and just because Synopsys has received Xilinx sample devices don’t expect a new HAPS next week. Delivering a solution requires hardware development, software development and a huge amount of validation. But I’m confident that when you are ready to adopt, Synopsys will be ready to deliver…..

Posted in Admin and General, ASIC Verification, Bug Hunting, Debug, Early Software Development, FPGA-Based Prototyping, HW/SW Integration, In-System Software Validation, Man Hours Savings, Milestones, Technical, Tips and Traps | Comments Off

How to stand out in a sea of similarity

Posted by Michael Posner on 19th September 2014

How to stand out

This week at SNUG Japan I presented on how you can utilize FPGA-based prototyping to differentiate your products. Basically the theme of the presentation was earliest, fastest and highest debug. The earlier a prototype is made available the more productive you can be with it translating into accelerated time to market. The faster the prototype the more tests or complex scenarios could be run translating into higher quality products. With earlier prototype availability and more complex software being run you need better debug capabilities to rapidly track down bugs. The presentation seemed to be very well received and if you have a SolvNet ID you should be able to find the presentation within the SNUG proceedings soon.

Another of the presentations was “Successful Complex GPU IP Implementation on Synopsys HAPS Platforms using ProtoCompiler” which covers the details on the implementation of Imagination’ PowerVR 6XT Dual core GPU on HAPS. There was a live demonstration of the system during the social event after the technical track. Below you can see Andy, one of the Synopsys Application Consultants standing behind the demo booth.

Andy staffing the booth at SNUG Japan. Demo is the IMG PowerVR 6XT Dual core GPU on HAPS

The GPU partitioned across four Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA’s using ProtoCompiler and is running at over 12 MHz. A  fifth FPGA is used as the testbench and interface to the host PC. DriverLive OpenGL is executing on the platform with real time video output. Andy helped setup this same demonstration at SNUG in Taiwan. He seems happier in Taiwan, I wonder why?

Andy working hard at the SNUG Taiwan booth. Demo is the IMG PowerVR 6XT dual core GPU running on HAPS

There were some other interesting demos, the first was by Fujitsu Semiconductor who was showing off their development platform for the S70 and S73 SoC’s. The Fujitsu S70 development board is connected to a HAPS system via a PCIe Gen2 link. The HAPS extends the development platform and enables customers of the Fujitsu S70 to test their own IP and subsystems.

Fujitsu Semi S70 development board connected to HAPS enabling developemnt expansion

Another demo was of the DesignWare PCIe Gen3 solution. The PHY test chip board is HUGE. I’m not sure if you can see it but there is a HAPS system attached to the top of it.

DesignWare PCIe Gen3 prototype running on HAPS

Finally there was a demo of the DesignWare IP Prototyping Kit for USB 3.0, part of the IP Accelerated Initiative. The demo was pretty nifty, it starts with all the hardware turned off, the system is then switched on and you watch Linux boot up in a matter of seconds right in front of you. This shows the power of the setup to enable immediate productivity for either early software development for the IP, IP configuration and HW/SW validation

DesignWare IP Prototyping kit demo boots Linux in seconds

Finally a question, what is the nearest planet to the Sun? Post a comment to respond.

Posted in Bug Hunting, DWC IP Prototyping Kits, Early Software Development, Humor, HW/SW Integration, In-System Software Validation, IP Validation | 2 Comments »

Zoro delivers Hybrid Prototype for Early Software development

Posted by Michael Posner on 20th June 2014


No not that Zorro, but Zoro, http://zoro-sw.com/

First I should note that I just traveled back from Israel and have been awake for over 40 hours at this point, I wonder if this blog will make any sense at all. I was in Israel to present at SNUG, which was very well attended again this year. One of the papers presented was by a company called Zoro Software and they presented the success they had with deploying Hybrid Prototyping for one of their customers. If you remember Hybrid Prototyping is the combination of HAPS FPGA-Based Prototypes with Virtualizer Virtual Prototypes.

The goal of Hybrid Prototyping is to reduce the time and effort to create a prototyping environment  enabling software development to start earlier as well as HW/SW validation. Zoro was able to deliver on this goal and the details with results of the project are posted in their presentation found in the SNUG proceedings. I took the liberty to take a snapshot of the summary slide as I think it does a great job of expanding on all the benefits of Hybrid Prototypes.


The even more cool thing was that Zoro Software was also demonstrating the Hybrid Prototype at the SNUG event. Below is a picture of Uri Shkolnik, CEO of Zoro software standing next to the Hybrid Prototyping demonstration. In the demo the USB 3.0 controller was implemented on the HAPS system and an ARM based subsystem is running within a virtual development kit in Virtualizer


Another amazing thing was that someone managed to capture me smiling, look….


I have no idea why I was that happy, just look at the view I had from my hotel room.


(For those who didn’t get it, that was sarcasm above)

I know Israel is a country at war but it’s pretty beautiful and this was by far the most fun I’ve ever had on a business trip. Of course I did celebrate my birthday (29 again) while on this trip and that was simply amazing. I’m looking forward to getting back to Israel again soon and hanging out with new friends.

Posted in Early Software Development, HW/SW Integration, Hybrid Prototyping, In-System Software Validation | Comments Off

Top Secret IP Accelerated Testing

Posted by Michael Posner on 6th June 2014


Synopsys’ big press this week from DAC was the announcement of the IP Accelerated initiative. As this initiative combines Synopsys’ leading interface IP, DesignWare, HAPS FPGA-Based Prototyping systems and Virtual Development Kits as you might guess I have been very involved in this evolutionary development. I executed my own personal top secret testing of the deliverables, more on that later in this blog. I’m so happy that we have finally made this initiative public as I have really wanted to talk about it.

Highlights from the press along with my personal comments on each of the bullets

  • The IP Accelerated initiative augments Synopsys’ leading IP portfolio with new IP prototyping kits, software development kits and customized IP subsystems

Synopsys has taken an evolutionary step and will be delivering packaged subsystems for DesignWare IP with HAPS FPGA-based systems for immediate prototyping productivity, virtual development kits enabling pre-RTL early software development. These DesignWare IP reference subsystems also enabling rapid customization for application specific needs. Customers demand high quality IP where the digital RTL controller has been validated against the mixed signal PHY and Synopsys has always delivered this value. The IP Accelerated initiative delivers the DesignWare IP packed up in a reference subsystem. The subsystem enables Linux to be booted immediately, no effort from the user, and includes the DesignWare IP software drivers. These subsystem references enable the IP users to be immediately productive with either early software development for the select IP. For the hardware or prototyping engineers these subsystems deliver a fully operational prototyping reference which can be used to explore the IP capabilities and accelerate the bring-up of an SoC level prototype.

  • The DesignWare IP Prototyping Kits include a proven reference design for the IP preloaded onto a HAPS-DX prototyping system and a software development platform running Linux OS with reference drivers

Wow, it’s like the Synopsys R&D engineers have been reading my blog and have implemented a hugely scalable IP prototyping subsystem enabling immediate productivity and a flow for streamlining IP to SoC prototype bring up.  I urge you to watch the videos, especially the demo as it’s amazing to see Linux boot so fast and see the IP operating under a real OS.

  • The DesignWare IP Virtual Development Kits are SDKs that include a processor subsystem reference design, a configurable model of the DesignWare IP as well as a Linux software stack and reference drivers

These deliverables are targeted at the software engineers who want to start there customization of the DesignWare IP drivers targeting their specific application. The advantage of the SDK is that they do not require RTL, they are highly portable and very fast. The advantage of the hardware based DesignWare IP prototyping kits is that they include the prototyping model of the DesignWare IP RTL so cycle accurate and physical real world IO enabling compliance and interoperability testing. Software drivers developed on the SDK can be executed on the real hardware to validate their operation in real world scenarios.

  • For hardware engineers, the IP Prototyping Kits provide a validated IP configuration that can be easily modified to explore design tradeoffs for the target application
  • For software developers, both the IP Virtual Development Kits and IP Prototyping Kits can be used as proven targets for early software development, bring-up, debug and test

These are self-explanatory, basically you are productive immediately. Even an engineer with no previous IP, FPGA-based or virtual prototyping experience can use them.

  • To reduce risk and accelerate time to market, Synopsys experts can assist designers in creating and customizing IP subsystems for their specific application requirements as well as integrating the subsystems into their SoC

The deliverables are packaged as a reference but as the IP is highly configurable enabling it to be tailored to application specific needs it’s expected that the deliverables will be modified for specific project usage. Some of this customization is enabled directly in the kits and the Synopsys experts are there to help with this task.

As mentioned above, I have been personally involved and took on a top secret project as a test pilot. You can see the summary of the top secret testing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN-ZsLK_IZw


Do you have a question on the IP Accelerated Initiative? If yes, post me a comment and I promise to respond.

I was at DAC this week, I’ll write up that fun next week

Posted in Debug, Early Software Development, Humor, HW/SW Integration, In-System Software Validation, IP Validation, Real Time Prototyping, System Validation, Use Modes | 2 Comments »

Imagine more, Prototyping GPU’s

Posted by Michael Posner on 24th May 2014

While at SNUG in England I had the pleasure of being one of the first people on the planet, yes planet, to see the demonstration of the Imagination PowerVR Series 6XT running at speed on HAPS. The demonstration streamed video data from a host to DDR3 on the HAPS system via a PCIe connection. This video data is then manipulated via the GPU and output in real time to DVI for display on a monitor. The demonstration was very impressive and eye catching to anyone who reviewed it. Imagination internally developed this setup to do what they call DriverLive software development as well as be able to run the 1000’s of GPU compliance tests in a matter of hours thanks to the high performance operation.

For the longest time FPGA-based prototypers would be forced to remove the GPU from the prototype as it used to be too complex to model or the platform did not have the scalability and modularity to handle the size (gate counts) of the GPU. In the above setup the IMG PowerVR Series 6XT is partitioned across four Xilinx Virtex-7 2000T FPGA’s using Synopsys’ prototyping tools. One of the keys to being able to do this is the use of high speed signal multiplexing between the FPGA’s handling the very large number of signals that cross between the FPGA’s. There is also an FPGA being used to manage the interfacing to the host PC, DDR3 and DVI real time connection. This design is over 50 Million ASIC gates but even at this size it’s still one of the smaller GPU configurations.

Imagination’s Colin McKellar presented their use of HAPS at SNUG UK and very shortly the paper will be uploaded to the SNUG Proceedings website found here http://www.synopsys.com/community/snug/pages/proceedings.aspx

Imagination commented in the presentation that they intend to continue to improve this setup expanding the configuration of the GPU as well as implementing the design with ProtoCompiler using HAPS High Speed Time-Domain Pin Multiplexing to increase the performance of the setup. I’m excited by this and promise to blog again as I get more information and am approved to talk about it.

Is there something else you would like to know about this setup? If yes then leave me a comment and I’ll follow up

While I was staying at the Hilton Hotel in Reading the staff decided to give me a nick name, see the food slip below

Yes, Mr. Bacon, I have no idea why they picked this name for me but it’s perfect for me as I love BACON. The hotel offers what I think is the best British Breakfast and of course I use the opportunity to get my fill. I took this picture of one of the courses of my breakfast. I didn’t plan this but I think it looks like a Bacon Cookie Monster

What do you think?

Posted in Early Software Development, Humor, HW/SW Integration, In-System Software Validation, IP Validation, Real Time Prototyping, System Validation, Use Modes | Comments Off

First Pass Silicon Success with design up and running in 24 hours!

Posted by Michael Posner on 16th May 2014

Achieving first pass silicon success is always the goal of the project. While a company may plan for a second chip spin they really want first pass silicon success enabling reduced cost and earlier time to market. I ran across this video featuring Peraso and Eric from the DesignWare USB team,  http://youtu.be/DyNyZP8Ysj4 . Now while Peraso do not claim first pass success bringing up a chip in the lab in 24 hours is amazing. Peraso used HAPS FPGA-based prototypes for system validation enabling them to test their software with their RTL implementation before they taped out. As you can tell from the video, Peraso were very, very happy with the fact that they had the silicon up and running in such a short period.

While we are on the subject of videos, here is another featuring the DesignWare HDMI IP and the HAPS-60 series systems. http://youtu.be/Ao-JeWz9g0A

These examples show the power of HAPS for reducing project risk, achieving first pass silicon success and exhibit high performance enabling the validation of very high speed real world interface.

Honestly I’m a little tired this week so I’m going to keep this blog short. A couple of weeks ago I did get the chance to take out one of the best off-road vehicles on the market. While I am used to far more horse power, this one horse power proved sufficient for the activity and we climbed some terrain that not many other modes of transport could reach. Unlike my other hobbies this trek was very relaxing. In addition I did not burn any fossil fuels in the process.

Do you want to meet me in person? Are you going to DAC? If the answer is yes to both drop me a comment and let me know and I’ll be happy to meet.

Posted in ASIC Verification, Early Software Development, HW/SW Integration, In-System Software Validation, IP Validation, Mick's Projects, Milestones, Project management, Real Time Prototyping, System Validation | Comments Off

Synopsys’ New ProtoCompiler Software Speeds Time to Prototype

Posted by Michael Posner on 28th April 2014


Synopsys just announced ProtoCompiler which is automation and debug software for HAPS FPGA-Based Prototyping Systems. ProtoCompiler is the result of years of R&D effort to generate a tool that addresses prototypers challenges today and built on top of an architecture which can support the needs of prototypers long into the future. ProtoCompiler focuses on the needs of prototypers specifically addressing the need for accelerated bring up as well as providing capabilities which result in higher system performance as compared to existing solutions. In this blog I’ll discuss some of the technical details behind the main tool highlights. Below are the detailed highlihts.

  • Integrated HAPS hardware and ProtoCompiler software accelerate time to prototype bring-up and improves prototype performance
  • Automated partitioning across multiple FPGAs decreases runtime from hours to minutes for up to 250 million ASIC gate designs
  • Enables efficient implementation of proprietary pin multiplexing for 2x faster prototype performance
  • Captures seconds of trace data with gigabytes of storage capacity for superior debug visibility

(Read to the end of the blog if you also want an update on Mick’s Projects)

Highlight: Integrated HAPS hardware and ProtoCompiler software accelerate time to first prototype bring-up and improves prototype performance

As noted above the goal of ProtoCompiler is to accelerate the bring up of a prototype as well as providing a path to the fastest possible operating performance. ProtoCompiler is unique as it combines hardware/software expertise with intimate knowledge to deliver superior results. Think of it as delivering a HAPS hardware expert packaged up into a format that anyone using the tool can access. ProtoCompiler has deep technical knowledge of the HAPS hardware including configuration, clocking structures, interconnect architecture, pin multiplexing expertise and more. ProtoCompiler is not only a hardware expert, it’s also a software expert. ProtoCompiler is built on top of a state of the art Synopsys proprietary prototyping database that means RTL is effectively processed and incremental and multi-processing techniques can be deployed with ease.

All this results in blazingly fast processing speeds. As an example ProtoCompiler’s area estimation, essential for automated partitioning, can processed 36 Million ASIC gates in less than 4 hours as compared to 22 hours in existing solutions. Now that’s fast!. Thanks to the new data model and incremental modes all subsequent compiles are even quicker.

Highlight: Automated partitioning across multiple FPGAs decreases runtime from hours to minutes for up to 250 million ASIC gate designs

So there are actually two announcements packaged up in this highlight. Starting in reverse ProtoCompiler supports 250 Million ASIC gate and larger designs. Humm, this sounds a little suspect as when HAPS-70 was launched it only supported 144 Million ASIC gates, what does ProtoCompiler know that we don’t? Luckily I know, HAPS-70 can now be scaled to support 288 Million ASIC gates, 2x the capacity. HAPS-70 now supports chaining of any six systems so if you chain six HAPS-70 S48’s you get a total of 288 Million ASIC gates supported which is 24 Xilinx Virtex-7 2000T FPGA’s. All working in one synchronous system.

Any 3 HAPS systems can be chained via our standard control and data exchange cabling, when you go above 3 systems you utilize a synchronization module that manages the system synchronization. Managing clock skew, reset distribution and configuration is all handled automatically. ProtoCompiler understands the hardware capabilities thus making deployment of such a system a snap. No longer do your engineers have to worry about how to distribute clocking, we have done the hard work so you don’t have to. Other vendors “claim” scalability and modularity but if all they are delivering is boards then it’s nothing more than a wild claim. To deploy a scalable and modular system you need a complete solution of software and hardware. You can now prototype SoC designs you thought never possible

The first part of the highlight introduces the new partition technology deployed in ProtoCompiler. ASIC’s are bigger than a single FPGA so you need to quickly partition the design across multiple FPGA’s. Historically this has been a challenge but with ProtoCompiler that challenge has been overcome. The partition engine in ProtoCompiler requires minimal setup before you can apply it to your design. There are four simple steps to setup the partition engine #1 Create target system, basically which system(s) you are compiling to. #2 Establish basic constraints which are things like blocks of IO. #3 Define the design clocks. #4 Propose an interconnect structure. Actually #4 can either be defined telling the partition engine to use a set interconnect architecture or leave it open and let the tool do it. There are advantages of both. By letting the tool pick the needed architecture the resulting system should be higher performance as ProtoCompiler will maximize interconnect to reduce pin multiplexing ratio. In a previously deployed system you may have already set the interconnect and then want the tool to use the available resources so you don’t make any changes to the hardware in the field. ProtoCompiler has the flexibility to do both meeting the needs of new prototype creation and image re-spin after a new RTL code drop.

ProtoCompiler partition engine is FAST, using the same example as above, 36 Million ASIC gates, ProtoCompiler was able to come to an automated solution is 4 minutes!!! WOW. ProtoCompiler provides a huge amount of information as to what it automatically did so that the engineer can quickly review the results and maybe provide ProtoCompiler more guidance to optimize the partition. For example after the first run you might want to lock down select parts of the design and then incrementally run the engine to push it to find a better solution for the rest of the design. As it runs so fast you can do multiple of these optimization iterations in a matter of hours. I’ve played with the tool as I was interested in this particular capability and have to say it’s amazing. I’ve tried the open method and let the tool find a solution for itself, in this mode ProtoCompiler pretty much finds a solution every time. I also played with challenging the tool for example locking the tool to use only 100 IO’s (two HT3 connectors) between FPGA’s. ProtoCompiler quickly finishes and told me that I was crazy and that the design could never be partitioned with my selected interconnect architecture.

Highlight: Enables efficient implementation of proprietary pin multiplexing for 2x faster prototype performance

OK, this is simple, this basically says that ProtoCompiler can automatically deploy the HAPS High Speed Time-Domain Multiplexing (HSTDM). HSTDM is developed and optimized on HAPS and ProtoCompiler packages up this expertize and automated the deployment. The partition engine will automatically select HSTDM and instance it into the prototype design. HSTDM delivers high performance pin multiplexing between multiple FPGA’s. The signals are packaged up, sent across a high performance link and unpacked at the other side. This all happens within one system clock and is completely transparent to the user. No manual intervention, no additional latency, and it’s stable and reliable as HSTDM is tested as part f the HAPS production testing and every system has to pass the minimum HSTDM performance tests. This ensures that when you deploy am image with HSTDM that it runs on every system the image is loaded on. No need to tailor the pin multiplexing implementation for each board like you have to do with other vendors.

Highlight: Captures seconds of trace data with gigabytes of storage capacity for superior debug visibility

ProtoCompiler expands the debug capabilities and grows the HAPS Deep Trace Debug capability which utilizes off-FPGA memory to store debug data. ProtoCompiler provides seamless multi-FPGA debug capabilities on top of a set of other debug capabilities tailored to delivering visibility at the right level of the debug cycle.

In debug one size does not fit all, you need to deploy the right level of debug visibility capability dependent on what you are trying to debug and the specific point you are in the project cycle. Sometimes you want very wide debug visibility with fast incremental turn-around. Later in the design cycle you typically want very, very deep debug windows. ProtoCompiler delivers both, fully automated through the flow, seamless and transparent to the users. And when I say deep, I mean deep, the example below is very typical of the debug window where you can easily capture seconds of debug data.

As usual my blogs got really long. I wrote it in the car while driving from Portland to Eugene. Amazing that I could type all of this and drive at the same time (LOL, only joking I was in the passenger seat)

Anyway, ProtoCompiler is the bees knees and I personally think it revolutionizes FPGA-based prototyping using HAPS. What do you think of ProtoCompiler?

If you have managed to get this far into my blog then congratulations. I’ve been taking it easy this week while I recover from the pneumonia that I came down with. In the evenings I finished off the two mini RC tracked vehicles I had been working on. The basis of both are simple kits which I then modified and added RC receivers and motor controllers to. While I am a grown adult I must admit they are fun to play with. The first is a basic platform RC tracked vehicle which I attached a Lego sheet to. Little did I know that this would be so popular with my son. He has been building towers and all types of structures on top of it.

Why drive your car to a car park when the car park can come to you. No joke that’s what my son said.

Mobile tire store

Bulldozer and sweeper

At the same time I also built a kit that has a shovel that moves on the front. Again I modified it to be radio controlled, including the shovel. This vehicle is a HUGE hit with my son and he has been busy building towers, knocking them down, then tidying them up with the shovel.

There are a couple of video’s of these little things in action on my You Tube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrMickPosner (and a video of my chicken food winch system)

Posted in Admin and General, ASIC Verification, Bug Hunting, Debug, Early Software Development, FPGA-Based Prototyping, FPMM Methods, Getting Started, HW/SW Integration, In-System Software Validation, Man Hours Savings, Mick's Projects, Milestones, Project management, System Validation, Technical | Comments Off

Peraso engages ludicrous speed and moves past plaid

Posted by Michael Posner on 21st April 2014

We just published a new success story on Peraso’s use of a number of the Synopsys IP, Tools and HAPS which is why I added the little call out to note this. https://www.synopsys.com/dw/doc.php/ss/peraso_usb_arc_amba_ss.pdf

Feel free to read the whole thing but I’ll focus on what HAPS and prototyping enabled for Peraso. This is what Peraso had to say about it.

Prototyping for Fast System Bring-Up
While working with Synopsys Professional Services, Peraso discussed their need for early software development and Synopsys Professional Services demonstrated how Synopsys’ Virtualizer virtual prototyping tool and HAPS FPGA-based prototyping system could help. Peraso used Virtualizer to start their software development tasks before RTL availability and seamlessly transitioned to their hardware/software integration tasks and system validation with the HAPS FPGA-based prototyping system. “Including Virtualizer and the HAPS system in the suite of Synopsys products we used on this project easily saved us three to six months in development time,” said Lynch.

That summarizes it nicely. As I have noted before, prototype enables earlier, earlier software development, earlier HW/SW validation and earlier system validation. Peraso was able to benefit from all this by utilizing Virtualizer for pre-RTL software development and then smoothly transitioned that to FPGA-based prototyping with HAPS and ran that same software directly on the RTL representation of the design. I’ve reached out to the team at Peraso to see if I can get a couple of pictures of their HAPS setup. Maybe I can get them to guess blog on their usage as well.

It’s been a rather tough couple of weeks for me. Before I went on my trip last week I was feeling a little drained but of course didn’t think it was anything special. While on my trip I felt worse and as soon as I returned to USA I ended up in Hospital, Pneumonia was the diagnosis. Yuck, lack of breath, no strength, drenched in sweat from fever and coughing up some horrible stuff. I was prescribed some antibiotics which cheered me up other than the fact that these same antibiotics are used to treat plague and anthrax victims.

It’s day three after starting the antibiotics and I still feel drained, I’m looking forward to turning the corner and feeling better again soon.

Extra kudos for anyone who comments with the name of the movie the title of this blog draws from?

Posted in Early Software Development, HW/SW Integration, In-System Software Validation, IP Validation, System Validation | Comments Off