Posted by Michael Posner on November 13, 2015
I read an article recently which stated that emulation is the key to Virtual Prototypes, I would like to ride the theme wave and extend the horizon to include FPGA-based prototyping. Back in 2012, Synopsys introduced the first integrated Hybrid Prototyping solution, the combination of Virtualizer Virtual Prototypes and HAPS FPGA-based Prototypes. Our customers recognized a long time ago that the combination accelerates system bring-up by using virtual prototyping for new design blocks or CPU subsystems and FPGA-based prototyping for existing logic.
There was a presentation at SNUG Taiwan delivered by Sunplus on their highly successful use of Synopsys’ Hybrid Prototyping. Their goal was to enable an early firmware/software development platform with reduced effort and far higher performance over their existing flows. Their design under test was a mobile Audio processing DSP. Sunplus decided to create a Hybrid Prototype to accelerate the bring up of a SoC prototype. In the diagram below you can see the partition split between available RTL and the CPU subsystem. The Audio DSP in RTL on HAPS and the CPU subsystem modeled in SystemC and handled in Virtualizer.
Sunplus used the available HAPS transactors, pre-built transaction based bridges, between Virtualizer and HAPS to quickly interface the two environments. Each section can be tested standalone to ensure they are operational before they are bought together creating the Hybrid Prototype. It’s a very flexible setup and the CPU subsystem can be used as the generic building block for all similar setups. The RTL side is also built in a generic way where IP can be swapped in and out or expanded to larger subsystems.
This environment enables a large amount of software to be run. This is software that is almost identical to the final SoC’s software.
The results speak for themselves. Boot up in less than a minute and per frame processing in seconds vs. hours!!!!
Typically I am asked what the different between Hybrid Emulation and Hybrid Prototyping is… The answer is that Hybrid Prototyping supports real world interfaces. For example, have a look at the Hybrid IP Prototyping Kits. These uses a pre-built Virtualizer CPU subsystem to drive the DesignWare IP on HAPS which includes interfacing across a real world interface such as USB 3.0. I should point out that the design on HAPS is the actual design, not a speed bridge or buffered design. The advantage of Hybrid Prototyping is that it builds of the benefits of FPGA-based prototyping and that’s the ability to run at speed supporting high performance real world interfaces.
The DesignWare Hybrid IP Prototyping Kits accelerate IP prototyping and software development:
Finally, sadly HAPS-80 with ProtoCompiler did not win the ARM TechCon Innovation Challenge, but we did rank highly. Here you can see me presenting a demo session at the ARM Techcon exhibit hall.
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