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WIKI Multi FPGA Design Partitioning 800x100
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ARM Cortex SoC Prototyping Platform for Industrial Applications

ARM Cortex SoC Prototyping Platform for Industrial Applications
by Daniel Payne on 03-14-2013 at 1:00 pm

If your next SoC uses an ARM Cortex-A9 and has an industrial application, then you can save much design and debug time by using a prototyping platform. The price to prototype is quite affordable, and the methodology has a short learning curve. Bill Tomasan Aldec Research Engineer conducted a webinar today on: ARM Cortex SoC Prototyping Platform for Industrial Applications.



Bill Tomas, Aldec

Robotics is a typical industrial application.


Robots used in Industrial Automation


System Flow
There are four steps used to create a new industrial system: Specification, HW selection, Development, Test & Debug.

In addition you need to develop a complete Safety Integration plan which encompasses all four of the steps show in the system flow.

Networking is another example of industrial application that requires real-time data, deterministic behavior, and support different busses.

Using FPGAs for Prototyping
Why use an FPGA for your next prototype?

  • Reconfiguration allows new standards to be supported
  • Partial reconfiguration lets you dynamically change hardware blocks during operation
  • FPGA has a lower cost versus using multiple components (MCU, DSP), saving board space
  • System integration with: ARM Cortex-A9, AMBA AXI, Programmable Logic, GUIs, OSes

Aldec’s ASIC Prototyping Platform
The system is called HES-7, which has one or two Xilinix Virtex-7 chips, giving you 4M to 24M ASIC gates. You can plug-in daughterboards or create your own. Up to 25GB/s, fast IOs. The board can be connected to a PC with PCIe. Engineers can do both emulation and acceleration.

Daughter Board
In this setup there’s a USB mouse and keyboard connected, along with an HDMI monitor. Lots of media interfaces:

  • Ethernet PHY
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • HDMI
  • Audio Codec

The Xilinix Zynq ARM Cortex-A9 can be used on this board with both parallel and serial interfaces, along with audio and video processing.

Applications
An industrial networking application would support multiple protocols on a single board with 4 Ethernet PHY available.

An I/O hub can be prototyped with a HES-7 using a daughterboard. There’s a 28 GTX link between the SoC and your logic.

Machine vision can be designed with a camera-based prototyping system. LVDS signals connect your sensor to the HES-7. Video processing analytics would be done on the dual ARM Cortex-A9 chips.

Summary
SoC designers with industrial applications can now consider using FPGA-based prototyping, including an ARM Cortex-A9 chip. Aldec has developed an expandable prototyping platform called the HES-7 that is easy on the pocketbook, and high in performance.

View the full 45 minute webinar here.

Q&A
Q: In slide 15 you talk about a unified platform. How does simulation and acceleration work together?
A: Our prototyping board has debugging capability, so you can use a host PC to monitor important signals. You can debug quicker by allowing things like step-by-step and viewing waveforms.

Q: I need RoHS compliance in my design.
A: The HES-7 is RoHS compliant and meets the standard.

Q: How can I implement safety into my design during the P&R of the FPGA?
A: Safety can be implemented by allowing you to use Xilinix PlanAhead to precisely place any logic in a specific area of the chip.

Q: The Virtex-7 looks too large, can I just use the SoC daughterboard stand alone?
A: No, you cannot use just the SoC daughterboard it is really part of the larger HES-7 platform.

Further Reading


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