Continued semiconductor industry growth depends on delivering ever more complex chip designs, co-verified with specialized system software – in less time with relatively fewer mistakes. In this book, we will initially look at how the need for co-verification evolved with chip complexity, where FPGAs got their start in verification, and why ASIC design benefits from prototyping technology.
In this book, we uncover the history of FPGA-based prototyping and three leading system providers – S2C, Cadence, and Synopsys. First, we look at how the need for co-verification evolved with chip complexity, where FPGAs got their start in verification, and why ASIC design benefits from prototyping technology. The book also includes a Field Guide to help effectively navigate the FPGA prototyping flow using best practices and technologies.
FPGA prototyping is the methodology to prototype SoC and ASIC designs on FPGAs for hardware verification and for early software development. This methodology is sometimes referred also as ASIC prototyping or SoC prototyping. Prototyping SoC and ASIC designs on FPGAs has become a mainstream verification methodology for hardware design as well as a method for early software and firmware co-design. This primer on FPGA prototyping will discuss the important factors of why to prototype, the current challenges of prototyping and how to overcome them, and the issue of building your own or adopting an off-the-shelf prototyping solution.
Whether you are designing or verifying extremely complex cutting edge designs or more mainstream design, FPGA prototyping can help you achieve your goals with maximum benefit. The key to getting the most out of FPGA prototyping requires a good understanding of how this technology works and the FPGA prototyping solutions that match your design and verification requirements. This eBook contains of series of articles published in EE Times that can help you navigate the world of FPGA prototyping technology – everything from overcoming FPGA prototyping hurdles to expanding the use of your FPGA prototype upstream of the design flow to using FPGA prototyping for even the largest designs. The eBook also gives you insight into how a complete prototyping platform can help for any design stage, any design size, and with enterprise-wide access, anytime, anywhere.
The FPGA prototyping system must offer enterprise-wide accessibility ― a complete prototyping platform is one that operates at any functional design stage, with any design size, and across multiple geographical locations. All of these capabilities must be available on demand and remotely-accessible at all times. Such an approach would significantly increase engineering productivity and reduce the end-product's time to market, while increasing its return on investment (ROI), as well as increasing the lifetime ROI of the FPGA prototyping platform itself.
Debugging a single FPGA design is a relatively simple task. However, performing debug operations on a multi-FPGA platform is an extremely long and often labor-intensive process. Manual techniques only allow for debugging one FPGA at a time and traditional tools such as an external logic analyzer or FPGA internal logic analyzer have limitations when it comes to multi-FPGA debug. With manual processes, only gaining insight into the behavior of one FPGA at a time may result in missed design errors or misleading design behavior as it becomes difficult to test the functionality of the design as a whole. The part of a design that resides on a particular FPGA may be bug-free in its compartmentalized form, but when operated within the totality of the design may contain critical errors. External Logic analyzers have a limited number of probes and require designers to pull their probes to the top level so they come out from the FPGAs' I/O pins. Because of these issues, debug has been largely inadequate within the FPGA prototyping process thus leaving debug to be done only through simulation and/or emulation.