Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (6-6-11): FPGAs - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (6-6-11): FPGAs


Embedded Newsletter for 06-06-11

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June 6, 2011

Tech Focus: Making FPGA hardware more like embedded software


Making hardware more like software

Using SystemC to build a system-on-chip platform

Designing with an embedded soft-core processor

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor

Until recently, FPGAs have not been the centerpieces of embedded systems designs to the same degree dedicated microprocessors have been. That was because of the not unreasonable demand from developers that FPGA vendors adapt their architectures and tools to fit the software design and development flows common in embedded designs rather than the other way around. Or at least provide high level design methodologies that make the differences invisible to the developer.

One example of how much things have changed is “Making hardware more like software , my Editor’s Top Pick this week, featured in the June issue of ESD Magazine. In it the authors describe how they made an FPGA more reprogrammable through the use of a soft core microprocessor to partially or fully reconfigure an FPGA without rebooting the operating system.

Another good example is “Using SystemC to build a system-on-chip platform ,” featured in the February issue of ESD Magazine, where TI designers described the use of high level ESL and SystemC design tools to migrate back and forth between FPGAs and microprocessors during the design of a next-gen OMAP architecture.

Over the last five years other ways FPGAs have become more central in embedded systems design has been the introduction of FPGAs with embedded soft microprocessor cores , the use of high level ESL systems design tools , and C++-based hardware languages such as SystemC . Some recent embedded design articles and technical papers that document that trend include:

Designing with an embedded soft-core processor
Designing custom embedded multicore processors
FPGA soft processor design considerations

Such tools and capabilities represent a fundamental change in the way embedded systems are designed. I would like to hear from you about your ideas and experiences – and design article contributions.

To get more visibility on Embedded.com for your new hardware and product introductions, be sure to send your press releases to Embedded.com Products Editor Toni McConnel at toni@techrite-associates.com. To submit ideas for design articles and product how-to’s contact me at bccole@acm.org.

Design How Tos

Making hardware more like software

Here's a way to partially or fully reconfigure an FPGA without rebooting the operating system.

Using SystemC to build a system-on-chip platform

How Texas Instruments' designers used the SystemC hardware design language to do performance modeling when creating both the company's OMAP-2 platform and the devices based on it.

Designing with an embedded soft-core processor

Engineers from Plexus Technology provide some insight into designing a soft-core processor embedded in an FPGA and highlight key factors to consider in designing a System on a Programmable Chip (SoPC).

Designing custom embedded multicore processors

There are “multi” paths a designer can take to get the needed performance.

Reducing Power in Embedded Systems by Adding Hardware Accelerators

In addition to creating accelerator hardware designs for key algorithm steps, developers should consider using multiple copies of such accelerators and run them in parallel and optimize for both power and performance.

Transitioning from C/C++ to SystemC in high-level design

It's far easier to do architecture design in SystemC than it is to do it in C and C++. If co-designing hardware and software using high-level design methods, much of your work will be done in an architecture design phase in SystemC. Here's why.

Demystifying ESL for embedded systems designs

While the definitions of ESL may vary, the end result should be the same, namely letting system developers analyze their designs at a higher level of abstraction.

Use ESL synthesis techniques to replace dedicated DSPs with FPGAs

If your application isn't the most compute intensive, you may find that using an FPGA as a replacement is a good idea.

FPGA Soft Processor Design Considerations

FPGA technology and soft processor cores have the potential to integrate system design into a single FPGA device. From definitions to implementation, what do you need to know to get there?

Using FPGAs to avoid microprocessor obsolescence

This “How To” tutorial examines the options that are available to designers facing microprocessor (and microcontroller) obsolescence using FPGAs.

MicroBlaze hosts mobile multisensor navigation system

Researchers used Xilinx's soft-core processor to develop an integrated navigation solution that works in places where GPS doesn't.

Network require multi-gigabit processing? Try multi-core FPGAs

The use of a multi-core array of embedded soft processors on an FPGA allows for multi-gigabit processing, quick design, and system longevity. Here's how.

FPGAs tackle microcontroller tasks: Part 2 – 'Flexible' CPUs

FPGAs offer flexibility to handle the explosion in electronic content in today's automotive systems.

How to design an FPGA from scratch

When veteran ASIC designer Sven Andersson determined to learn how to work with FPGAs, he decided to create this step-by-step tutorial to teach others.

Synthesizable IP: the risk pays off

When preparing to design our next-generation DVD controller, Amlogic's engineers faced a choice in design methodology.

ARM® TechCon 2011 Call For Abstracts

We are now accepting abstracts for the technical program at ARM® TechCon 2011, to be held October
25 – 27 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.

The technical program will be presented over three days. On October 25, we will offer tracks on Chip Design. On October 26 and 27 the tracks will cover Software and System Design.

Deadline to submit: Friday, June 17, 2011

To Submit an Abstract for the Chip Design Conference, October 25, click here:

Chip Design Track Descriptions

SoC Architecture & Analysis
SoC Design begins with architectural concepts and analysis. Sessions in this track will describe the architectural choices, IP integration issues, and system analyses that define the front end of ARMIP-based SoC design.

SoC Design & Verification
These sessions will cover key aspects of the design and verification flow for ARM processor-based SoCs, from conceptual frameworks to best practices.

SoC Design for Power & Performance
As technology scales for increased circuit density and performance, the need to reduce power consumption increases in significance as designers strive to utilize the advancing silicon capabilities. In these sessions the focus will be on the techniques than can be used to match performance or power targets.

SoC design depends upon reusable silicon IP. These sessions will focus on both the IP qualification process and some novel new alternatives in IP for ARM processor-based SoCs.

SoC Verification of Challenging Structures Modern verification methodology has developed primarily in the pure-digital space. But there are many IP blocks in ARMprocessor-based SoCs, from interconnect structures to tightly-integrated mixed-signal functions, that require extensions of the existing verification orthodoxy. Sessions here will examine some of these cases.

To Submit an Abstract for the Software and Systems Design Conference, October 26 & 27, click here:

Software and Systems Design Conference Tracks

Android / Open Source
Development tools, middleware, native application development, turnkey solutions, optimized drivers… Android, Linux, FreeRTOS…

Computing Platforms
Standardization, specifications, board/module design, subsystems, servers, mobile/netbooks, consumer.

Producing code and debugging for ARM instruction set.

Efficient Software Design on ARM-Powered systems Optimized stacks, Multi-Core optimization, C-code, memory and cache use, data types & structures, OpenCL, Programming optimally for NEON.

Human Interface Design
Multiple Screens, Motion sensing and controller-free interfaces, trackpads, Voice recognition, Visual computing, augmented reality…

Low Power Design
Hardware and software techniques to maximize performance while reducing power and trade-offs, Power estimation, Low Power MCUs.

Microcontroller Platforms
Off-the-shelf devices, development tools and systems, simplified programming, application design.

Networking & Connectivity
Wired/wireless connectivity, Integration in hardware and software, networking stacks, power management, etc., CAN, USB, Sensors.

Safety & Security
Firmware safety, security against tampering in hardware and/or software, physical or network interference, CoreSight, TrustZone-based services, virtualization, smartcards.

The Fundamentals of ARM
As more engineers and companies look to join the ARM ecosystem there is an on-going requirement for information on the basics from core/device selection to commercial requirements – licenses, royalties.

System Standardization (ARM only)

To Submit an Abstract for the Chip Design Conference, October 25, click here:

To Submit an Abstract for the Software and Systems Design Conference, October 26 & 27, click here:

A note for returning speakers:
UBM Electronics have transitioned to a new, user-friendly, Call for Abstracts Submission Portal. Your EETimes.com credentials will allow access to the new Portal. If you are not registered with EETimes.com, please go ahead and create an EE Times log-in using the prompt we provided. Please retain this log-in information, as this will allow access to future Call for Abstracts.

We look forward to receiving your submissions.

Erin LeMoine
Conference Manager

Countdown to ESC Chicago 2011

ESC Chicago 2011 kicks off in less than 2 weeks with Tutorials starting on Monday, June 6th and the Expo opening on Tuesday, June 7th. We are putting the finishing touches on the outstanding line-up of content and special events, and we hope you'll join us for the most valuable and efficient professional development you will experience all year.  http://esc.eetimes.com/chicago/?cid=generic

Conference Tracks

  • Designing for Embedded Linux or Android
  • Graphics, Displays, and Lighting
  • Medical Systems
  • Networking and Connectivity
  • Open Source Software
  • Project Management
  • Real-Time System Development
  • Robotics and Motion Control
  • Safety and Security in a Stuxnet World
  • Software Debugging Techniques

View Track Descriptions:  http://esc.eetimes.com/chicago/sessions_by_track 

Free Expo Pass & Conference Discounts
It's not too late to register for a free Expo Pass, which will give you access to the combined ESC and Sensors Exhibit Floor,
Keynotes, Speed Trainings, Teardowns and Sponsored Sessions. Plus you can save 20% off current ESC conference prices by registering with promo code ESC20.
Register Now:  https://escchicago.reg.ubmelectronics.com/prereg/2011/registrations?cid=generic

10 Reasons to Attend ESC Chicago

  1. 40+ Technical Classe

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