Posted by achimn on November 11, 2021
By Achim Nohl, Principal R&D Engineer, Synopsys
FPGA-based prototyping is an important step in the pre-silicon validation and software development of next-generation SoCs. But managing hardware prototyping systems is not for everyone. That’s partly because of the different needs of the people involved using the systems, plus the wide variety of chip designs being prototyped. There is a lot to orchestrate. And, from management to end users, there’s significant opportunity to optimize the process and maximize the value from prototyping. Using prototype-as-a-service, a web stack-based resource management API gateway, can help you reduce the total cost of ownership in your prototyping investment—scaling the systems you already have and increasing your productivity with higher levels of efficiency and utilization.
Imagine you’re attempting to access one prototyping system after another only to find they’re already in use. There is no indication as to how long each system will be tied up. No batch queuing or scheduling available out of the box. No way to centrally manage hardware installations or automate prototype system inventory management either. These are just a few of the headaches you might encounter in the FPGA prototyping process, depending on your role. And no matter your role, it can be tedious to manage these systems. Prototyping is typically done in the final critical stages of SoC verification before tape-out. Everything must work like clockwork to sign-off the design. But, the reality of prototyping systems is that they are often not well managed.
If you are overseeing prototyping systems in your organization, you need to be aware of the unique needs of the people who access those systems. For example:
If you are responsible for end-to-end orchestration of prototyping systems, optimizing on a role-based level can improve workflows and leverage the systems you have to their full capacities. Using a cloud-native, web-architected gateway, or prototype-as-a service, is an easy way to make that happen.
A prototyping system management layer with a central gateway and typical cloud-native web application architecture can provide secure APIs with role-based access control and metering, along with a modern responsive web-based user-interface (UI) to access deployments (Figure 1). An ideal architecture separates the client development environment from the prototype hosting environment through network transport-based APIs such as RESTful or message queues. This architecture means that servers, connected to the prototyping systems and running EDA tools, don’t impose hardware requirements on the end-user, who, for instance, could be an Android developer with a very different platform setup than for EDA tools. The user interface of the prototype systems can be accessed using a browser from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The business logic for controlling the prototype resides on the remote server system. The application gateway orchestrates and manages the access and allocation of systems for the different users and prevents interference.
Via the API gateway, you can control everything in non-interactive batch mode and run scripts, such as Python, on your client PC, programming and interacting remotely with the prototyping systems through an API. No remote login is needed, making it easier to integrate into continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/ CD) pipelines like GitLab or GitHub via simple RESTful API calls.
A web application can provide job function-specific user-interface views to increase efficiency. Here are just some of the possible benefits of differentiated role-based views:
Having a view that gives you just the information you need no matter your role makes the entire end-to-end prototyping process dramatically easier.
The benefits of using a gateway web application to manage your organization’s prototyping ecosystem are many. Scaling up your systems for more users. Out-of-the-box usability. Round-the-clock access. These productivity boosts are all possible with prototype-as-service. Here are just a few more:
The named system setup, reservations, privileges, usage tracing, and analytics and health status and analysis make implementing and managing the system much easier.
The flexibility of mobile access, customizable UI, easy deployment, and an interactive set up and cabling flow takes out the tedium for system users. For end users only, you don’t have to be an FPGA expert to use the prototyping tools.
There’s no longer any need to ship physical systems. The job queuing and scripting drives more software regressions, and the APIs enable web ops integrations. The fact that there’s no software installation—access is through a web browser—means that you are enabling more users on your prototyping systems.
Synopsys HAPS® Gateway is a great example of the kind of state-of-the-art resource management solution we’ve been discussing. Specifically for companies adopting HAPS prototyping systems, it provides prototype-as-a-service, encompassing all of the features and benefits mentioned here. Whatever your role in prototyping, HAPS Gateway makes it as easy as putting a URL into a browser to instantly know:
Users can tap into HAPS Gateway from across the globe and at all hours. In one recent deployment, 10 HAPS systems were easily extended to approximately 300 software engineers via HAPS Gateway, and that’s just the beginning of what customers are accomplishing. That number of seats would have previously been too difficult and labor intensive without a prototyping resource management solution (Figure 2). And, users can run regressions 24-7—something that until now has never been possible. User friendly right out of the box, the solution is generally more comprehensive and needs less maintenance than most internally grown systems.
HAPS Gateway will help you maximize ROI, use your HAPS systems more efficiently, and get the most out of your HAPS systems investment.
As the impact of Moore’s law diminishes, the elastic compute power of the cloud is becoming ever more important in a world of smart everything. When it comes to chip design, the adoption of the cloud has been sluggish, but cloud innovations will be essential in overcoming the bottleneck of traditional design methods as time to market pressure will only increase. In fact, Accenture notes cloud innovation in semiconductor design is critical to meet today’s accelerated pace of innovation.
At Synopsys, we work together with cloud security vendors to help ensure security along with strong identity, access management, and uptime safeguards to smooth this transition. One of the tools that can help bridge to the future, easing workflows and shortening time to market in semiconductor design, is a gateway-enabled API platform for modern access and management of your on-premises prototyping systems.
Prototype-as-a-service resource management API gateways can orchestrate your entire prototyping infrastructure, save time for everyone involved, and make the most out of your prototyping system investment. Technologies such as this will help ease the path to the continued innovation that will also facilitate silicon realization on the cloud.
Catch up on our other recent cloud technology-related blog posts:
In the era of Smart Everything—where devices are getting smarter and everything is connected—Synopsys technology is at the heart of innovations that are changing the way we live. Read on to get the latest look at trends in semiconductor chip design, verification, IP integration, and software security and quality. Learn about the ins and outs of electronic design automation from our industry-leading experts and how silicon and software are powering the automotive, artificial intelligence, 5G, cloud and IoT markets.