Embedded Processing Solutions Backgrounder

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Nov 25, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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Xilinx Embedded Processing Solutions Backgrounder

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1


Embedded Processing Solutions Backgrounder

Embedded Development Kit v9.2

www.xilinx.com/edk


Introduction

Time is a precious resource, whether
a designer is
racing to gain access to premium price
points on the rising edge of a new market window, scrambl
ing to incorporate last
-
minute
changes to accommodate emerging standards, or squeezing every second out of a product
life cycle. Building on a flexible hardware platform provides the remarkable capacity to
reduce time to market, time to standards implement
ation, and time to debug and repair,
while staving off the natural erosion of product life through commodity valuation, and
ultimately, obsolescence.

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are all about flexibility. The ability to
accommodate change, whet
her to augment, adapt or amend, diversify or differentiate
electronic system designs
,

sets the FPGA apart from all other design platforms. In a
world where change is the axiomatic constant that rewards th
ose who are nimble
, the
FPGA can turn time into an a
sset rather than a cost, and change into an advantage rather
than a burden.

Facing Change with Options

The best way
for designers to
prepare for change is to arm
themselves
with options.
The
FPGA has always provided those options through the programmabili
ty of its hardware
,
but

e
mbedded processor
s

have
open
ed

an entirely new set of
opportunities
to the
designer.
By integrating most of

an

embedded system including the processor,
peripherals and glue logic into a single chip, embedded designers can reduce t
otal system
cost, power and board space by reducing component count. Integrating custom
coprocessors on the FPGA can
also
help accelerate performance
-
critical portions of their
design. Moreover, Xilinx embedded processors and pre
-
verified IP cores allow de
signers
to focus their efforts on creating differentiated value, thereby getting to market with
initial products in time to extract maximum return from diminishing market windows.

The Latest in Xilinx Embedded Processing

In response to the evolving require
ments of its target markets, Xilinx has substantially
enhanced its embedded processing capabilities
by upgrading every aspect of its
embedded processing solutions
,

including processors, peripherals,
and
system
architecture
,

while drastically simplifying
th
eir

u
sage through intuitive hardware and

software tools delivered as part of Embedded Development Kit
s

(EDK
s
)
.

Xilinx Embedded Processing Solutions Backgrounder

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2

This next phase in the evolution of FPGA
-
based embedded processing solutions
delivered with EDK v9.2
targets
two key

customer
-
focused
goals:

mak
ing software
d
evelopment
e
asier

and
enabling

rapid design of high
-
performance e
mb
e
dded systems
.

Making Software Development E
asier

MicroBlaze


v7

Processor

with Configurable MMU

The award
-
winning MicroBlaze
processor
is a configurable 32
-
bit RISC processor

soft
core optimized for the flexibility
inherent to
Xilinx FPGA
s
. The soft processor is
uniquely
configurable in that a designer can implement
only
the
specific

features
required
by the design, thereby

opti
mizing

silicon area
and/
or performance. Every asp
ect of the
MicroBlaze processor is customizable
,

i
ncluding functional
requirements

like pipeline
depths, caches, f
loa
ting point units, multipliers, d
ividers
and more i
mportantly
,

the use of
optional c
oprocessors based on the target application
.

Table 1 sho
ws how the MicroBlaze
processi
or

has evolved since its introduction.


Table

1


MicroBlaze processor evolution

With
the
new Memory Management Unit (MMU) in
the
MicroBlaze v7

processor
,
designers can e
xploit
a
full
-
fledged embedded operating system

like Li
nux
,

increasing
their productivity using its virtual memory capabilities while developing more robust
software applications using its memo
ry protection capabilities. E
mbedded software
developers
that choose to create their own custom real
-
time kernels or e
xecutives can
also configure

the MMU to
provide only the

memory protection
function, further

reducing the logic area utilized in the FPGA.

Note that the MicroBlaze processor ISA is
still software
-
backwards compatible with previous versions of the processor

core.


Xilinx Embedded Processing Solutions Backgrounder

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3

Support for
C
ommercial
-
G
rade Linux RTOS

Xilinx has added support for
LynuxWorks’


Blue Cat Linux 2.6
,

a robust, commercially
supported
Real Time Operating System (RTOS)
.
Enabled by the MicroBlaze
processor’s
new
MMU, t
his is the industry’s only Linux port for FPGA
-
based soft processors. Now

for the first time,

embedded designers

can d
esign and optimize their ideal embedded
processing system by taking advantage of the
full
-
blown features of a high
-
end RTOS

in
combination with the
flexible
MicroBlaze
soft
-
core
processor technology
.


Industry Standard Software
Debug

Tools

Embedded softwar
e engineers require a different kind of visibility
than that used by
hardware engineers
,

who often identify and fix issues with tools like volt
-
meters,
oscillo
scopes

and logic analyzers.
Rather than searching for hardware events, software
engineers prefer
to analyze their code looking at functions and software code execution.
Software debuggers are required tools for embedded engineers and are used to set
breakpoints, stop, start, and step through the code line by line.

Sof
t
ware “Trace” tools allow engine
ers to capture longer software execution threads to
an
alyze where the problems reside

and track them down to final resolution. Using
internal system memory to capture information is useful in many cases, but doesn’t help
when a defect causes
the
system to
hang or crash. External Trace tools with their own
probes and additional memory allow for deeper (longer) trace captures and avoid system
memory issues.
Industry partners like Lauterbach and Computex provide trace tool
support for the MicroBlaze processor
.


T
he Xilinx Platform Studio Software Development Kit (SDK), an industry standard
Eclipse
-
based IDE, provides the same familiar software development environment
to
which
embedded developers
have grown
accustomed.
The
MicroBlaze processor is
also
complemen
ted by support from Xilinx Embedded Ecosystem partners, including leading
RTOS and tool vendors

Enhanced system
architecture with
interconnect and peripherals

As stated before, the key advantage of FPGA
-
based embedded systems is its flexibility
,

manifested

in the designer’s ability to select the right set of peripherals, customize them
to the right feature requirements and connect them in the most optimal way. The latter
operation is significantly enhanced with the new 32 to 128
-
bit CoreConnect


Processor
Local Bus (PLBv46) that supports both MicroBlaze and PowerPC
® processor based

systems

from Xilinx
. The new system architecture

(Figure 1)

supports shared connections
as before for smaller implementation area, reducing cost while also supporting

point
-
to
-
point connections for higher bandwidth needs.

Another key architectural enhancement is the use of
a
Multi
-
Port Memory Controller
(MPMC) as the centerpiece of high
-
performance embedded system design with FPGAs.
The new MPMC core delivered with th
e Platform Studio tool suite provides optimal
memory throughput by providing
the
flexibility
to
select the
appropriate
external memory
from a wide range of SDRAM, DDR or DDR2 DIMM modules or memory chips
with
data widths from 8 to 64
-
bits. In addition, MPM
C supports up to 8 paramet
e
rizable ports
Xilinx Embedded Processing Solutions Backgrounder

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4

with configurable buffering and arbitration to fine tune the system
for

the highest system
throughput.

The
se

architectural enhancements support the use of high
-
performance hard IP cores
embedded in Virtex

-
5 FPGA
s

l
ike the Tri
-
mode Ethernet MAC (TEMAC) and PCI
Express
®

(PCIe) block. In addition,
Xilinx upgraded more than
50 peripherals in EDK to
use the single common PLBv46 bus interface
,

simplifying selection of IP.


Figure
1


Flexible Embedded System

Platform Stu
dio simplifies
high
-
performance
system
design

The Xilinx Platform Studio tool suite (XPS) provides guided design wizards to enable
customers to build high
-
performance SoCs in minutes using MicroBlaze or PowerPC

processors

and the high
-
performance IP descri
bed
earlier
. For example, using the Base
System Builder wizard a designer can quickly create a high
-
performance networking
subsystem that includes the MPMC with built
-
in Scatter Gather DMA
,

a
nd a

TEMAC
with a Dynamic Realignment Engine (DRE) and CheckSum O
ffload (CSO) that can
support TCP/IP payload throughputs greater
than
900 Mbps with PowerPC

processors
.
The new clocking wizard in XPS simplifies the setup of multiple Digital Clock Manager
(DCM) primitives needed to support the wide range of clock frequen
cies
, which in turn
are

needed to interface with external I/O and memory interfaces.

J
ump
-
start Embedded System
D
esign

Integrated development kits kick
-
start design and accelerate the development cycle. The
latest MicroBlaze Development Kit, Spartan
-
3E 160
0E Edition, provides a
comprehensive kit including MicroBlaze, a board and a complete embedded development
suite. Pre
-
verified references designs, communication cables and a single JTAG probe
supporting both FPGA image download and SW/HW debug tools provid
e the difference
between an efficient evaluation platform and a

stand
-
alone board.


Intelligent embedded tools with guided wizards make evaluation easy, automating the
steps required to set up the board, chose the processor, customize specific IP, and
Xilinx Embedded Processing Solutions Backgrounder

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5

gen
erate matching peripheral drivers as well as sample test code. Using a working FPGA
evaluation board and
an
example design
, designers save valuable time by beginning code
debugging immediately, rather waiting for new hardware or manuf
acturing defects to
appear.

Xilinx
Embedded Processing
Solutions

Summary

As embedded system design technology has expanded and matured, so has the appetite
for new technology exhibited by end users and the applications that serve them. Changes
can come swi
ftly, trends and tipping points often overrunning one’s capacity to
accurately and efficiently feed the demand.
To meet this demand, Xilinx
has introduced

the next generation of its Embedded Processing Solutions built to address the need

for
flexibility, i
ntegration and performance in a wide range of markets and applications
including the communications, industrial, medical, automotive and defense markets.

The

enhanced 32
-
128 bit CoreConnect Processor Local Bus (PLB) delivers
the
performance and scalabilit
y
to satisfy

next
-
generation

requirements.
In addition, t
he
award
-
winning MicroBlaze 32
-
bit processor now includes the industry’s only
configurable MMU
to

enable commercial
-
grade OS support
.
A host of upgraded IP and
design tools delivered with the Embedde
d Development Kit (EDK) version 9.2 also
supports the MicroBlaze v7 processor
.


##