HOME    COMMUNITY    BLOGS & FORUMS    Breaking The Three Laws
Breaking The Three Laws
  • About

    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.

New Sexy Videos Posted

Posted by Michael Posner on October 3rd, 2014

Picture representing that this weeks blog is about new HAPS videos posted to the Synopsys website

We have just uploaded a stack of product videos. Below is a list of the latest three. (I think they are sexy!!)

•             Prototyping Imagination’s PowerVR Series 6XT dual-cluster 64-core GPU with Synopsys HAPS and ProtoCompiler

A video showing the multi-FPGA system used to model IMG’s GPU. The system has real-time video out for visual inspection of the images

•             Speed IP/RTL Block Bring-up and SoC Validation with HAPS-DX

A video explaining the methodology, flow and capabilities which enable a block to be prototyped and debugged on HAPS-DX and seamlessly integrated into an SoC prototype on HAPS-70

•             Synopsys ProtoCompiler for RTL Debug with HAPS Systems

A video showing the new ProtoCompiler debug capabilities including multi-FPGA with deep trace

They can all be found (plus more) here: http://www.synopsys.com/Systems/FPGABasedPrototyping/Pages/Videos.aspx (Sexy right?)

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my 20 years at Synopsys. Well this week one of the Synopsys sales people was nice enough in their own time to create a depiction of what I look like now vs. 20 years ago. Below you can see the then and now depiction.

FAKE depiction of what I might have looked like after 20 years at Synopsys

THANKS, Mr. Synopsys sales person…. You know who you are…. I know where you sit :)

To set the record straight below is a picture I snapped off this week after a haircut.

Real picture of me, selfie taken on 10-2014

No supermodel for sure but I still got my hair…

 

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in ASIC Verification, Bug Hunting, Debug, DWC IP Prototyping Kits, Early Software Development, Humor, IP Validation, Man Hours Savings | 1 Comment »

Welcome new HAPS Connect Members

Posted by Michael Posner on September 27th, 2014

While visiting a customer this week in the UK I asked the following question:-

Mick: How many people work here?

Response: oh, about 1/2 of them……………………….

UK, home to a bunch of comedians

Now at first I assumed they meant that half the people work at this site and half at their other site…. In reality my jetlag was blinding me to the fact that this was actually a joke. Funny, I thought I would share. The brits, they are very funny.

Welcome Zebax & EDADoc new HAPS Connect Members

Zebax Technologies offers test modules (breakout adapters) enabling debug and test of design solutions using high-speed b2b connectors covering multiple single/differential ended signaling standards for test equipment, FPGA Mezzanine Card, FMC, standards, including HSMC, VITA 57.1, and HAPS. Additionally Zebax offers test modules catering to ASIC bring up/characterization and HDMI, USB 3.1 and DP electrical test boards. You can find out more about Zebax here http://www.zebax.com/

EDADoc, www.en.edadoc.com provides PCB design and services and is experienced in HAPS daughter board design.

Welcome EDADoc as a new member of HAPS Connect

See all the HAPS Connect Members here: http://www.synopsys.com/Systems/FPGABasedPrototyping/Pages/haps-connect-program.aspx (EDADoc is not listed yet  but will be soon)

Don’t forget to sign up to the RSS feed (link below) and get my blog posts sent directly to you

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in HAPS Connect Program | Comments Off

How to stand out in a sea of similarity

Posted by Michael Posner on September 19th, 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.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

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

Top 3 Myths of FPGA-based prototyping BUSTED

Posted by Michael Posner on September 13th, 2014

Myth Busted

This week I’ve spent most of my time busting the top three myths of FPGA-Based Prototyping, specifically in respect to the HAPS solution based. The top 3 are:-

  • Capacity limited to less than 100 Million ASIC Gates
  • It takes months to get prototype working
  • Limited debug visibility

These myths are cast backs from the dark ages of FPGA-based prototyping, also known as BMWS, Before Mick Worked at Synopsys, which was a very long time ago, refer to this blog for details http://blogs.synopsys.com/breakingthethreelaws/2014/09/how-to-shaped-the-eda-landscape-and-the-world-we-live-in/

Lets take the first myth: Capacity limited to less than 100 Million ASIC Gates. The HAPS-70 series of FPGA-based prototyping hardware is based on the Xilinx Virtex-7 2000T FPGA’s. Synopsys rates each of these as 12 million ASIC gates, which is a conservative measure coming from years of experience in synthesizing ASIC RTL to FPGA. When the HAPS-70 series was launched back in 2012 Synopsys supported the automated and seamless integration of up to 12 FPGA’s which is equivalent to 144 Million ASIC Gates…. Myth BUSTED !!!! The unique HAPS architecture with its intelligent flexible interconnect architecture (rather than fixed PCB traces), combined with the HAPS proprietary high speed time domain multiplexing, enables the multi-FPGA system to be tailored to the SoC design under test achieving the highest of performance.

But wait…. There’s more….

HAPS External Clock Distribution Board, HAPS-ECDB, automated the integration of up to 24 Xilinx Virtex-7 2000T FPGA's

At the same time that Synopsys launched ProtoCompiler, automated prototyping software for HAPS, we also launched support for up to 288 Million ASIC gates, 24 FPGA’s in a system. ProtoCompiler delivers the design flow managing the large SoC Prototyping project and a HAPS daughter board called the HAPS External Clock Distribution Board, HAPS-ECDB, manages the seamless clocking, reset, configuration and synchronizing across systems. So not only is the myth of capacity limited to 100 Million ASIC gates BUSTED, it’s obliterated. To add credibility to this we even have customers utilizing such systems.

Now for the second myth: It takes months to get prototype working. This problem has been solved with integration between prototyping hardware and software. Even before ProtoCompiler was launched Synopsys delivered Certify automating the flow from ASIC RTL to FPGA-based prototype. To be honest what Certify lacked was a robust partition engine and in-depth integration with the hardware. ProtoCompiler was built with full integration and knowledge of the HAPS hardware target and a partition engine which can leverage the HAPS architecture flexibility. The result is that the time to first prototype (TTFP) can be reduced to as little as a week from first RTL drop…. Myth BUSTED !!!

ProtoCompiler integrated with HAPS delivering Time to First Prototype, TTFP, in as little as 1 week

The great thing is that due to the close integration of ProtoCompiler with HAPS you don’t trade off performance either so the end model still delivers on the #1 requirement of prototyping which is performance.

Time to bust myth 3: Limited debug visibility. First we need to get one thing straight, in FPGA-based prototyping there are hardware limitations as to how much debug data can be stored. While it’s technically possible to get simulator like visibility in HAPS the tracing logic and size of the memory storage needed would make it cost ineffective. But debug visibility is not limited. Take the HAPS-DX, it has built-in HAPS Deep Trace Debug. HAPS Deep Trace Debug is an integrated capability of ProtoCompiler DX combined with the HAPS-DX hardware. You have the capability to do simulator like debug of the design under test. How much debug visibility do you get… well an example is that you can trace 128 signals with a capture rate of 100 MHz hardware speed and you would get 5 seconds of debug data. Or you could trace more signals for a shorter period… I say Myth Busted !!!

But guess what… there is more…..

HAPS Deep Trace Debug with non-intrusive and seamless integration

As seen above, Synopsys also delivers a multi-FPGA solution as part of ProtoCompiler which does not require memory on the HAPS system itself or usage of the Hapstrak connectors. Again this capability is enabled by the tight integration between the ProtoCompiler software and the HAPS hardware systems.

In summary:-

  • Capacity limited to less than 100 Million ASIC Gates – BUSTED !!! Synopsys delivers 288 Million ASIC gate support
  • It takes months to get prototype working – BUSTED !!! ProtoCompiler & HAPS delivers TTFP in as little as 1 week
  • Limited debug visibility – BUSTED !!! ProtoCompiler & HAPS delivers deep trace debug

Are there any more FPGA-based prototyping myths you would like me to bust? Drop me a comment and I’ll work on them

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in ASIC Verification, Bug Hunting, Daughter Boards, Debug, HW/SW Integration, Man Hours Savings | Comments Off

How to shape the EDA landscape and the world we live in

Posted by Michael Posner on September 6th, 2014

It might be hard for you to comprehend but I have just celebrated my 20th year at Synopsys!!! (I started when I was 12…….. honest and I’ve just celebrated by 29th birthday for the 14th time) This blog is a short history of my time at Synopsys and how I think I have helped shape the EDA landscape which in turn has influenced the world we live in today.

I joined Synopsys in October 1994 as a hotline engineer supporting Design Compiler, as did everyone back in those days, but also to specifically focus on the newly acquired Logic Modeling line of products, the LM/MS hardware modelers and the simulation SmartModels.

Mick & Alex enjoy a beer in the UK

Boy I look young in that picture…… Alex, the person to the right of me, was hired a month before me, he too is still in the EDA business just proving that once you enter its very hard to leave. Alex was interviewed based on his great technical collage record, I was interviewed as the hiring manager loved Land Rovers and I had put in my aspirations section that I one day wanted to own one… The hiring manager also found it funny that I had put “Birdman of Brighton 1992” as one of my achievements. (Which is true by the way). Anyone with a sense of humor and some technical skills needed to be interviewed he said. Supporting hardware modeling (extra points for those of you who know what hardware modeling was) and SmartModels put me squarely in the Verification and Validation track and that theme continued during all my years at Synopsys.

While in the support role in the UK I used to create examples of the Hardware Modeler and SmartModels in action. I send these to customers to help them ramp up with the tools. At the same time I packaged them up and posted them on an internal website so other Synopsoids could use them. Well this leveraged activity was noticed by management in the USA and in 1997 I moved to the Synopsys Oregon office and took on the role as Technical Marketing Manager for the Hardware Modelers and SmartModel products. As I remember it these were the years of Synopsys, the soul of silicon. I create a DAC demo using the hardware model of the TMS320C51 and the Synopsys VSS simulator (bonus points if you remember VSS) which flashed Synopsys the Soul Of Silicon across a simulated display. In 1999, during my time as Technical Marketing Manager I was awarded the very prestigious Synopsys “Excellence” Award, recognizing my dedication to customer success and excellent execution. I’ve been striving to be awarded this for a second time but even though I have voted for myself a number of times I’ve not received it again. I helped launch Synopsys Arkos emulator and Synopsys Cyclone cycle based simulator, both of which were amazing technology (IMO). Cyclone was a simulator that you could rewind!! Fancy that, hit a bug and simply rewind the simulation and review the events leading up to the issue….

Flow for using Synopsys' hardware modeler with Synopsys' Cyclone cycle based simulator

In 2001 I started the ramp up to true marketing and was promoted to Product Marketing Manager where I revolutionized Synopsys memory models by introducing the DesignWare Memory Models which were compiled RTL with an intelligent C core enabling advanced testbench capabilities. At the same time I took on responsibility for the ARM AMBA-Bus-Based synthesizable IP which is still a critical part of the DesignWare IP offerings and utilized in 1000’s of chips.

In 2006 I was promoted again and took on the additional roll of DesignWare SATA IP. It was really more of the same in respect to my job requirements but as I always strive for excellence I did my very best job to drive the adoption of the IP solution. It was during this role that I started to travel much, much more especially internationally. This travel has not stopped and I’m pretty sure my rear end is now the shape of an economy airplane seat. We rode the semiconductor downturn and during this time I was happy that my “yes” approach to everything paid off. I’m always happy to take on anything that is thrown at me and during the years of reduced expenses I was happy that I was reviewed as an essential resource bringing high value to Synopsys.

2010 signaled by shift from IP to FPGA and I took on the role Product Marketing Manager for Synopsys FPGA-Based Prototyping products, both the HAPS hardware and the software products. I felt refreshed after doing IP for so long it was nice to have new challenges and REAL hardware again. Of course with real hardware comes totally different problems to solve. So all of this brings us to today,

Mick Posner, 007, Director of Marketing, FPGA-based Prototyping Products

I’m now Director of Marketing for FPGA-based prototyping products. 20 years of hard work has got me here and I’m really happy to have been a part of Synopsys, the best EDA company on the planet (IMO). Yes things have changed, Synopsys was pretty small when I first joined, less than 1000 people, and now we have people, processes and thousands of products, but the core values have not changes. I’m looking forward to my next set of challenges….. I also think about how many products on the market have been influenced by the products that I have lead, it’s hundreds and some have revolutionized our daily lives.

Thanks to everyone I have worked with over the last 20 years..

I need a couple of ideas of FPGA-based prototyping topics to blog about, please send me a comment with some ideas

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in Humor | 2 Comments »

Speeding Prototype to Host Connectivity

Posted by Michael Posner on August 14th, 2014

A Chain picture which I thought would represent the link from host to HAPS.

A while back I talked about the various prototype to host connectivity modes facilitating IP and SoC validation including Hybrid Prototyping. The use of the Synopsys Universal Multi-Resource Bus, UMRBus for short, is key to deploying these use modes. Synopsys introduced the UMRBus along with the HAPS-60 systems and it’s popularity has grown ever since. The UMRBus provides an easy to use infrastructure for any user of the HAPS systems to configure, monitor and expend the capabilities of the HAPS system.

The UMRBus technical architecture. One side you have the hardware client application interface module, CAPIM for short. The otherside you have the generic UMRBus API which is the software layer which you program against

Synopsys provides the high level UMRBus API and the hardware interface modules along with the HAPS systems. These are the same building blocks that the Hybrid transactors are built on top of and which are delivered as part of ProtoCompiler. Multiple UMRBus connection modes are supported depending on the goal of the usage such as simple remote access and configuration to full blown high performance data streaming and Hybrid Prototyping. The follow is a list of the various connectivity modes and the expected performance. You can use these to pick the best connectivity solution to match your prototyping needs.

UMRBus over USB. The easiest connection mode as you just plug a USB cable from the host into the HAPS System either HAPS-70 or HAPS-DX

Typically the USB connection mode is used when all you want to do is remotely configure and debug the prototype.

UMRBus pod connecton. This provides the most flexibility in connectivity with UMRBus access to any and every FPGA in the system.

The UMRBus pod enables a seamless interface into the HAPS system with direct visibility into any FPGA in the HAPS chain.

This is UMRBus over a PCIe Paddle board. Basically the UMRBus is a layer on top of PCIe delivering the UMRBus capabilities over a very high performance link

This is a very high performance UMRBus mode for the HAPS-DX making it perfect for IP validation where lots of data need to be streamed on and off of the prototype. Using this mode over 400 MB/s streaming data bandwidth can be achieved

Same high performance as UMRBus over the paddle board, over 400MB/s with the added flexibility of a cable based connection

The UMRBus over PCIe MGB connection is similar to the PCIe paddle board version for the HAPS-DX and works for the HAPS-70 via a flexible cable setup. This connection method can also be used on the HAPS-DX and delivers similar performance of over 400MB/s.

We provide example designs showing how each of the UMRBus connection modes can be used as well as integration with the prototyping software tools including the new ProtoCompiler and ProtoCompiler DX. This makes any of the modes super quick to deploy.

So as you can see, lots of options to connect HAPS to a Host for advanced prototyping.

(I’m off on vacation for two weeks, so sorry, I doubt that I’ll blog during that time.)

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in ASIC Verification, Daughter Boards, Hybrid Prototyping, IP Validation, Use Modes | 1 Comment »

Solving the ASIC Prototype Partition Problem

Posted by Michael Posner on August 8th, 2014

A couple of weeks back I posted a humorous list of the quotes I use in my day to day life, one of which is “Hope is not a strategy”

Well as it turns out this caused quite a fluster as apparently hope is a strategy, well sort of. Here is a link to a Harvard Business Review Article – Hope as a Strategy, well sort of.

http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/10/hope-is-a-strategy-well-sort-o/

The premise is that when hope is based on real-world experience, knowledge and tangible and intangible data, it results in trust, which is necessary to implementing any strategy. What do you think about that? Is the word hope being used to explain the standard  practice of planning and factoring in the calculated risk assessment? If yes, this is going to totally revolutionize my life.

To ensure we have a little FPGA-based prototyping content this week I highly recommend the new Synopsys white paper on Solving the ASIC Prototype Partition Problem with Synopsys ProtoCompiler

ProtoCompiler whitepaper explaining how the challenge of multi-FPGA ASIC prototyping is solved automatically

The white paper describes the challenges of ASIC prototyping when the design has to be split up over multiple FPGA’s and how the new ProtoCompiler tool solves these challenges automatically. It’s a highly technical paper with in-depth data on how to rapidly partition an ASIC design ready for high performance prototyping. The ProtoCompiler tool can partition process a design in lass than 5 minutes and highlights bottlenecks which will limit the prototyping performance and pointers on how to resolve to deliver the maximum optimization.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in Humor, Man Hours Savings, Project management, System Validation, Use Modes | 1 Comment »

PCIe trends and how to accelerate Gen3 prototyping

Posted by Michael Posner on August 1st, 2014

Market trends for PCIe between 2013 and 2014

We are seeing PCIe Gen3 being integrated into many different types of SoC’s. The above summarizes the changes we are seeing in the market across 2013 and 2014. One notable area is that PCIe is moving into enterprise storage with PCIe being used for the interface to NAND flash storage devices. The below picture shows the key needs in the segments. PCIe Gen 3 is a great fit for storage as it offers 8Gb/s transport rate across a single lane with x2, x4, x8, x16 lane configurations resulting in huge bandwidth potential. My thanks to Scott Knowlton, of the Express Yourself Blog for the PCIe market data and segment analysis

PCie market segmentation and the main requirements of each

In June 2014 Synopsys ran an internal “FPGA Fest” this is an event where the Synopsys prototyping engineering teams invites all our field application consultant specialists into town for an intensive week of technical training. I attended the training as well and snapped off a couple of pictures of the PCIe Gen3 x4 lane example design training. The design is the DesignWare PCIe Gen3 controller core configured as an end point with x4 lanes. It includes an embedded DMA and software application that enables data to be read/written from and to the prototype. The DesignWare controller IP core is implemented on the HAPS-DX system and interfaces to the PCIe Gen3 capable host via the Xilinx high speed IO’s (Rocket IO transceivers). Don’t forget, I blogged about PCIe Gen3 on HAPS-70 in the past.

Top view of the HAPS-DX plugged into the host

HAPS-DX plugged into PCIe Gen3 capable host

Side view of the HAPS-DX. Here you can clearly see the HAPS-DX kit’s included PCIe Gen3 x8 capable paddle board. This is a daughter board which enables a direct passive connection from the HAPS-DX to the host’s PCIe slot. The paddle board is a highly cost effective way to create the physical link from the HAPS-DX to the host. We offer cabled versions as well which provide greater flexibility in the HAPS-DX placement but at additional cost of course. The SI characteristics of the HAPS PCIe Gen3 paddle board are fantastic (not a technical term I know…) ensuring a stable and robust connection.

View of HAPS-DX PCIe gen3 x8 capable paddle board connected to PCie Gen3 capable host PC

Finally the proof is in the pudding. Here is a picture of the reported bandwidth of the PCIe Gen3 x4 lane connection. WOW, ~700MB/s that’s fast.

Synopsys software application showing results of DesignWare PCIe Gen3 x4 end point running on HAPS-DX. ~700 MB/s fast

Do you want a PCIe Gen3 setup like this? If yes, contact me as we are preparing to release the IP Prototyping Kit for it.

Off subject…. A while back I built a small bird house with my son and he requested we put a label on it saying “Welcome Birds” so the birds would know it was for them. Well as it turns out the sign worked and we have had little birds going in and out all summer. My son said to me last weekend, “Daddy we need to build another bird box for all the other birds” I’ve been busy so to divert his attention I said that if he designed it I would help him build it. 5 minutes later he returns with a piece of paper with the design. He had designed a bird house high rise, yes, a multi-story bird house. Well I promised that if he designed it, we would build it and so here is the result.

High rise or multi-story bird house that Mick Posner built with this son

I should note that his design had way more floors but I negotiated him down to just three. We all love how it turned out. My son helped with the cutting on my radial arm saw, nailing with my framing nail gun, drilling the holes and screwing in the bolts. My father exposed me to tools when I was young, I am trying to do the same in a safe and controlled manor. All the timber used was from the scrap left over from tearing out one of our old fences.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in Daughter Boards, DWC IP Prototyping Kits, IP Validation, Mick's Projects, Real Time Prototyping | 1 Comment »

HOW TO: Achieve Fastest Time to Operational Prototype and Highest Performance

Posted by Michael Posner on July 24th, 2014

Road runner the bird, not the cartoon

If you didn’t know the above picture is of the greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus). Trust me I didn’t just make up the Latin name. The Latin name means “Californian earth-cuckoo”. This blog is about how to achieve the fastest time to operational prototype, accelerating ASIC and SoC verification, speeding validation and the road runner was first image that popped into my mind when I wanted to articulate fast. There has been a lot of talk about Time To First Prototype, TTFP, recently so I thought I would blog a how to on achieving accelerated TTFP. I thought I’d raise the bar and deliver a how to on both achieving this AND get the highest operational performance out of the FPGA-based prototype.

If you have found yourself reading this blog you are looking for the magic solution but I am afraid I have to burst your bubble, there is no black magic solving this problem.

Home made no back magic logo

It’s better, all you need is a fully integrated FPGA-based prototyping solution. Yep, that simple, blog done, thank you :) (What? You want to know why an integrated solution solves all your problems!) To answer this we need to quickly review the challenges to FPGA-based prototyping. The below picture describes the challenges to prototyping, based on a recent survey that Synopsys ran. It also includes on the left the solutions to these individual challenges.

Click on the images to view the whole picture. I made them large so they were easy to read.

Survey results defining the challenges of FPGA-based Prototyping and the combined HW/SW capabilities needed to solve them

Do you spot the common theme? The challenges cannot be solved with hardware or software alone, it’s the combination that solves the problem. An example is performance, I’ve blogged about this is the past that it’s the combination of hardware interconnect flexibility and the ability to deploy a high speed time domain, differential signaling, solution that is the key to achieving the highest performance. In this case the software has to have intimate knowledge of the hardware, it’s electrical and SI characteristics to be able to correctly implement the high speed time domain IP in the multi-FPGA prototype design. At the same time ALL hardware must meet a minimum level of performance across all interconnections to ensure that when the prototype design image is deployed across many systems it always runs reliably.

Summary examples of what integrated capabilities are of the Synopsys solution

Debug is another good example. To deliver the highest debug visibility you need both a software flow that enables instrumentation of the RTL, graphical display AND hardware capabilities to store the physical data. The result of integration reduces your need for expertise as the solution has the expertise. Same for partitioning across multiple FPGA’s, as the software is hardware aware and the hardware can be tailored to the software recommended best interconnect topology the result is optimal.

Lucky for you, Synopsys delivers a fully integrated solution of ProtoCompiler plus HAPS so you don’t have to wait. And… if you call now, not in 5 minutes but now, I’ll personally visit your site to say hello.

Synopsys' integrated FPGA-based prototyping solution including ProtoCompiler software, HAPS FPGA-based hardware, debug, DesignWare IP, Support, HAPS Connect Program

While ProtoCompiler was only recently launched its delivering some fantastic customer results, see below, accelerating time to first prototype and delivering the highest performance. This was a customer design, 48 Million ASIC gates, four Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGAs. ProtoCompiler is fully integrated with HAPS leveraging its strengths. HAPS interconnect can be tailored based on the ProtoCompiler recommendations and ProtoCompiler understands the HAPS architecture and resources such as clocks and resets. ProtoCompiler is built around a stable code base of Synopsys’ mature and unique compilation and synthesis engines delivering the highest QoR for out-of-the-box results.

Synopsys achieves fastest time to prototype and highest performance operation with ProtoCompiler plus HAPS

A fully integrated solution delivers not only accelerated time to first prototype and highest performance but also reduces your effort as it’s doing the hard work for you. Just don’t tell your boss otherwise he will give you more work.

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in ASIC Verification, Early Software Development, HW/SW Integration, Man Hours Savings, System Validation | 2 Comments »

Going vertical for all the right reasons

Posted by Michael Posner on July 17th, 2014

harrier

By far my favorite aircraft growing up was the Harrier jump jet. Back in those days it was the only jet aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities. I dreamed of flying one and even owning my one. Actually I still dream of owning one. I like the idea of a helicopter as you can vertically takeoff and land meaning you have a wide range of landing zones. The problem with a helicopter is that it’s very slow in comparison to a plane so it would take you ages to get any real distance. Hence the Harrier was a perfect option for me, vertical takeoff and landing and jet speed in the air, it’s the best of both worlds.

In the land of FPGA-based prototyping there is a lot of horizontal and not much vertical, especially when it comes to daughter boards. Traditional daughter boards are flat or horizontally mounted to the system such as the HAPS DDR3 daughter board pictured below.  

HAPS-DDR3

There is nothing wrong with a daughter board like this, in fact the above daughter board has exceptional SI characteristics and operates at very high performance. However we found that some customers ran into challenges when it came to building custom daughter boards specifically tailored to their needs. Here is a summary of some of the issues they ran into.

  • Customers daughter board was quite big but it only required a couple of IO’s interfacing to the system.  Often the daughter board covered up more connectors or blocked airflow and fans just because the daughter board PCB had to be large to accommodate the custom logic
  • The daughter board required a big connector, but again only required a couple of IO’s. The size of the connector forced the size of the daughter board PCB to again cover things.
  • Once in a while the customer actually wanted to get access to both sides of the daughter board. Sometimes this was to connect to both sides, other times to probe. They would build a long daughter board expanding out of the system to do this. It was typically mechanically unsound.

Enter the Synopsys R&D Boffins! They could have ignored this little gripe with daughter boards, lets face it, the issue is annoying but not the end of the world. But that’s not good enough for the Synopsys! So drum roll please……. for the worldwide announcement of the availability of the VERTICAL HAPS daughter board. Yes, vertical….

Vert-DB

The new vertical daughter board addresses the issues laid out above.

  • For daughter boards that use relatively few IOs, say up to 50 (HT3 connector IO count) but require more PCB real estate than a typical LAB board, building in a vertical way is excellent. Look at the picture, the board form factor is huge yet it only plugs into and utilizes one HT3 connector. It does not block any other connectors or airflow.
  • Same for the problem of the big connector, a vertical board enables a HUGE connector to be used if wanted.
  • Oh my, you can even access both sides of the daughter board, perfect for additional PCB access and probing.

Vert-DB-1

The HAPS HT3 spec is being updated to define the new HT3 vertical daughter board and will be available to all existing HAPS-70 customers. Synopsys validated the form factor and usage and now shares it with any HAPS-70 customer that wants it.

So now we can all go vertical. Ease of use, functionally with performance, it’s like the Harrier jump jet of FPGA-based prototyping daughter boards. Someone once made fun of the upper frame on the HAPS-70 systems, now who’s laughing……

  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

Posted in Daughter Boards, Project management | 1 Comment »