By Adam Taylor
As I discussed last week, Petalinux is the official Linux distribution for the Zynq SoC. To get the most out of this distribution, we need to be able to build our own version. This requires development on a Linux system. Now, not all of us develop on these systems so creating a new machine can be expensive and time consuming. I will therefore be using a Virtual Machine to provide access to the Petalinux distribution. I have used a similar approach previously to use the CERN libre Filter design tool and it has worked well for me.
I’ll be using the Oracle VM Virtual Box machine and creating an Ubuntu installation of Linux on this virtual machine. This is very simple to achieve. First, download the VM virtual box and an Ubuntu ISO onto the hard drive of your host machine.
Once you have installed the VM Virtual box the next step is to select new on the virtual box manager and create your virtual Linux machine.Read more...
Best-in-class software development teams deliver embedded products with 0.1 bugs per thousand lines of code. They consistently beat the schedule without grueling overtime.
Does that sound like your team?
No? Then what actions are you taking to improve your team's results?
Hoping for things to get better won't change anything. Overly general platitudes like “trying harder” and “working smarter” never work.
What does work? Getting expert advice from people who have been there and done that.
My good friend Jack Ganssle is teaching his one-day seminar “How to Develop Better Firmware Faster” three times next month. Jack knows more ways to mess up software development than any three other people I know. Fortunately, he also knows how to deal with these problems and he’s been telling people how they can do the same for many years now.
If software bugs and other development nuisances are biting you, Jack’s one-day course will teach you practical—and proven—ways to develop better firmware faster.
What have you got to lose? A day of your time? The next major software bug will kill at least a week of your schedule. Best to call the exterminator now.
The three November classes will take place at:
Baltimore, MD – November 7, 2014
Santa Clara, CA – November 14, 2014
Germany (just outside of Stuttgart) – November 28th, 2014
Register here. Tell them Steve sent you.
By Patricia Steele, Xilinx Employee Communications
M-Cubed/COVE-2 CubeSat (Image Credit: University of Michigan)
In December 2013, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor in conjunction with Jet Propulsion Laboratories, California Institute of Technology, and NASA's Earth Science Technology office launched into space the M-Cubed/COVE-2 CubeSat (a mini satellite used for space-science research and technology verification). Onboard the CubeSat sits the Virtex-5QV (V5QV) FPGA. The Virtex-5QV is the first of its kind - combining rad-hard technology with re-configuration capability used for high-performance processing.
The COVE FPGA processor board (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
M-Cubed's mission was two-fold. The primary assignment was to validate the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the new, on-board hardware and software. Pending success, the secondary undertaking was to perform a Decadal Survey for Aerosol Science (describes the role of clouds and aerosols in climate changes that can affect global warming) for the Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem.
One of the new technologies was an algorithm designed for NASA's Multiangle Spectropolarimetric Imager (MSPI), a multi-directional, multi-wavelength, high-accuracy polarization camera that processes 95 Mbytes/second of raw video data. Additionally, the Virtex FPGA would reduce this data by two-orders of magnitude. With no loss of information and in real-time, data would then transmit back down to Earth.
After many months in orbit, M-Cubed's primary mission was a success. According to Dr. Charles Norton of JPL and Cal Tech, "We recently passed our 6-month minimum operations milestone and have already met all of the Level-1 flight requirements for the payload and the mission. [The] team has been tracking housekeeping data on the Xilinx V5QV, and the image-processing algorithm has performed flawlessly on the FPGA hardware throughout the flight experiment." With this success, Virtex has advanced the TRL for future space-based MSPI instruments. Thus, the secondary mission began. Today, the CubeSat continues to collect, process, and successfully send back massive amounts of compressed MSPI video and data to NASA.
Note: This story by Patricia Steele originally appeared on the internal Xilinx Crossroads employee site
Earlier this month at ARM TechCon, I had the pleasure of moderating a double teardown panel at ARM TechCon with Kyle Bryson, Principal Architect at National Instruments and John Hickey, CEO of Cloudium Systems. First, we tore apart the National Instruments VirtualBench, an All-in-One Benchtop Instrument that combines the functions of an MSO (mixed-signal oscilloscope), a logic analyzer, a digital multimeter, an arbitrary waveform generator, and a programmable power supply. There are also a few software-controlled digital I/O lines for creating test and control systems. Next, we tore apart a Cloudium Systems Integrated Media Platform, a small set-top-box-like, cloud-oriented server designed to handle multiple compressed video and audio streams.
Both of these products are based on the Xilinx Zynq SoC and the following video shows you how the two products were designed and constructed and what Zynq features were used to realize the designs.Read more...
According to this Mathworks press release, the latest MATLAB Release 2014b adds direct Xilinx Vivado integration to the package’s HDL Coder and Vivado support for FPGA-in-the-loop verification to HDL Verifier.
Xilinx and SAI Technology have announced the availability of the first LTE UE (User Equipment) Software Defined Radio (SDR) reference design based on the Xilinx Zynq All Programmable SoC. The reference design can be used to develop public safety radios capable of voice, image, and video communications and has been implemented using the Vivado HLS (High-Level Synthesis) tool to make it easy for SDR developers to customize all protocol layers using high-level programming-language descriptions. You can immediately start working with this reference design using the Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC/AD9361 Software-Defined Radio Systems Development Kit available from Avnet.
Several hundred Bay Area Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts passed through the Xilinx booth at the San Francisco Bay Area Council STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Encampment, a day-long event held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton on Saturday, October 11. Xilinx participated in the STEM Encampment to help these young people and their parents learn about the company and some of its youth-oriented community support activities and about Xilinx products, the semiconductor industry, engineers and engineering. David Manley and Steve Leibson from Xilinx staffed half of the company’s double-wide booth and explained the world of Xilinx and engineering to an endless stream of young people ranging from preschool to High School age. Several student members of Xilinx-supported robot teams from Leigh and Branham High Schools in San Jose occupied the other half of the Xilinx STEM Encampment booth. They were the real stars of the event, getting the lion’s share of the attention in the Xilinx booth with their live robotic games and activities.Read more...
By Adam Taylor
Having spent the last few blogs looking at operating systems and AMP (asymmetric multiprocessing), a natural progression is to look at running Linux on the MicroZed. We’ve not yet discussed running Linux on the Xilinx Zynq SoC. Linux has become a major embedded operating system so by discussing it now, we’ll also be discussing symmetric multiprocessing, killing two birds with one stone—so to speak.
Since its creation by Linus Torvalds—who wrote Linux as a personal project in 1991 while he was a computer science student at the University of Helsinki—Linux has become one of the world’s most widely adopted operating systems and has become increasingly popular as an embedded OS. With a large number of software developers now familiar with both the Linux kernel and application development for Linux, it stands to reason that we would wish to run Linux on the PS side of the Zynq SoC.
Linux is capable of running on one ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor core or on both of the cores in the Zynq SoC. When we run the OS on both cores, a single operating system is in control and this makes it an SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) system.Read more...
Adrian Cosoroaba and Terry Magee from Xilinx are giving a talk titled “High Performance DDR4 interfaces with FPGA Flexibility” at 2:40pm on October 15—next week at Memcon at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Magee, a Principal Engineer at Xilinx, architected the DDR4-2400 PHY used in the new Xilinx UltraScale All Programmable FPGAs and the talk will discuss how the Xilinx PHY design team put together a reliable DDR4-2400 memory interface with the extreme flexibility (compared to an ASIC) and low power consumption required by programmable FPGA I/O pins.
The demanding DDR-2400 capabilities had to be added without compromising the I/O pin’s ability to perform other tasks as challenging as operating as a high-speed serial I/O port or as simple as an LED driver. In addition, the same high-speed PHY would be expected to drive DDR3-2133, DDR3L-1866, and LPDDR3 SDRAM; low-latency RLDRAM 3; and QDRII+ and QDR IV SRAM. That’s a tall order for one I/O pin yet it’s the sort of capability and flexibility that FPGA PHY designers are expected to create.
The solution to developing a DDR4-2400 PHY was to “turn the problem on its head,” to steal a line from one of the presentation slides. I’m not going to tell you how that was done—not just yet—because I’ll steal no thunder from next week’s presentation. I will tell you it’s not nearly as simple as purchasing a 3rd-party PHY IP block and dropping it into the design.
However, I will give you a graphical preview:
Interested? Register by clicking here. (It’s free.)
Do you need a clear understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of FPGAs, NPUs, and Multicore CPUs for packet processing? You will get one at the Linley Processor Conference 2014 in Santa Clara. Atul Shinde from Xilinx will be speaking about “Partitioning Hardware and Software Programmability for Best Carrier Ethernet Processing” on the first day of the conference, October 22, and I’ve stolen the following slide from his slide deck as a taste of what he’ll be discussing:
Shinde’s slide lists five major dimensions for the purpose of comparison:
Don’t believe it? Register for the conference and make Shinde prove it to you.
Registration for pre-qualified attendees is free if registration forms are received by October 16, 2014. Registration for non-qualified attendees is $795 if received by that date. On-line registration closes on Thursday, October 16 at 5 PM Pacific.
The new Vivado Design Suite 2014.3 supports more than 40 OpenCV functions, now available from Xilinx Technology Ventures portfolio company and Xilinx Alliance Member Auviz Systems through Vivado HLS, the C-based synthesis tool in the Vivado Design Suite.
More than 1400 people read last month’s blog post “JESD204B ADC interface magically commutates Gsamples/sec into a polyphase channelizer,” which described how ADCs with a JESD204B interface can commutate or decimate a Gsample/sec+ data stream into multiple lower-rate streams for parallel processing with a polyphase channelizer. If you understand that last sentence, then you will be delighted to learn that there is now a configurable Super Sample FIR filter in the latest release of the Xilinx System Generator, which you will find in the latest Vivado 2014.3 release.
Old joke from the original "Blues Brothers" movie: We have both kinds of music here—country and western.
The Zynq SoC gives you three major forms of programmability: software, hardware, and I/O. When you choose to use a Zynq SoC for the heart of a system, you get an expanded number of design choices—a very large design space to explore—and your real-time application’s performance depends on your team making the right choices in that design space. Xilinx has just posted a new 211-page document called “The UltraFast Embedded Design Methodology Guide” (UG1046) that will help your team make these choices using industry’s best design practices.
The User Guide dedicates chapters to:
It ends with a guide to additional Xilinx design resources.
The guide is free and is one click away. Click here.
Today’s release of the Vivado Design Suite 2014.3 for Xilinx 7 series All Programmable devices, Zynq SoCs, and UltraScale FPGAs includes a ton of enhancements and performance improvements. Here are a few:
In addition, there’s a new UltraFast Embedded Design Methodology Guide, UG1046.
More detailed blogs about specific new features will follow shortly.Read more...
I just found out that Doulos and EnSilica will be giving a free, 1-hour technical Webinar on October 10 to help you integrate your custom HDL IP into Xilinx Zynq SoCs so that the IP plays nice with the on-chip, dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processors via the AXI interfaces. There are several convenient Webinar times during the day for India, Europe, and North America. Can’t beat the price--free. You have three days to register. Better hurry.
Looking down the barrel of a DDR4-2400 or a fast DDR3 SDRAM design? Want some help? Keysight (formerly the T&M piece of Agilent) is giving a free, 1-day design seminar titled “Gain insight into DDR3/4 and LPDDR3/4 Signal Flow” in Santa Clara, California on October 21. This is a live class and promises to be well work a day of your time. It’s being taught by Jennie Grosslight, Keysight’s Memory Test Product Manager. I met her at DesignCon earlier this year. (See “Avoid the three pitfalls of designing with DDR4 SDRAM – Live from DesignCon 2014.”) If I was going to design a DDR4-baseed design, I’d want Jennie’s help. If you attend this class, you’ll understand why.Read more...
The annual MemCon conference takes place in Santa Clara next week, October 15, in Santa Clara, CA. If you’re designing with any kind of new memory device—DDR4, LPDDR4, DDR3L, Wide I/O, etc—then you ought to dedicate a day to this great event. I guarantee you’ll learn something. (I once ran this event, so I personally vouch for its value.)
If you’re connecting FPGAs or the Zynq SoC to fast memories, you’ll also be happy to know that Xilinx will be at this event again this year. But of course, that’s why I’m writing about it in Xcell Daily.
Click here to register. It’s free.
By Adam Taylor
Well I must admit that this is one blog post I never expected to write. When I started writing the MicroZed Chronicles, I was never sure I would be writing the 52nd weekly instalment. Having achieved this milestone and more than 150,000 views along the way, I would like to look back over the year and review what I have covered on the Zynq SoC. I’ll then outline a few of my plans for the future.Read more...
Aquantia’s newly announced AQrate technology—as embodied in the company’s AQR405, AQR205, and AQR105 Quad/Dual/Single AQrate PHYs—can instantly boost cabling infrastructure bandwidth by 5x by transforming existing cable infrastructure based on Cat 5e and Cat 6 cabling into fully functional 5Gbps networks. Essentially, you unplug all of those 1Gbps Ethernet line cards, replace them with 5Gbps line cards, and your data center now runs 5x faster. No cable changes. No forklift upgrades. Nada.
Aquantia’s AQrate PHY technology drives 5Gbps over 100m of existing Cat 5e and Cat 6 cabling. That’s truly a big deal.
5G Ethernet isn’t an IEEE standard and you’re not going to find off-the-shelf Ethernet ASSPs to drive Aquantia’s ingenious new AQrate PHY chips at that data rate. Ah, but Xilinx All Programmable devices and IP portfolio already support Aquantia’s AQrate technology, even though it was announced yesterday. Xilinx has been collaborating with Aquantia in preparation for this week’s announcements.
Note: Aquantia is an investment portfolio company of Xilinx Technology Ventures—the investment arm of Xilinx, Inc.
Perhaps you’ve heard about the crowdfunded attempt to revive NASA’s International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3), launched on August 12, 1978. This wandering spacecraft was retasked and became the first to pass through a comet’s tail in 1985. By then, it was renamed the International Cometary Explorer (ICE). Eventually, project funding dried up and the spacecraft was decommissioned. However, its solar power systems and radio transponder continued to operate. NASA’s Deep Space Network detected the ICE space probe in 2008.
NASA’s ISEE-3 Spacecraft
As a consequence of that communication, Dennis Wingo (Skycorp Inc) and Keith Cowing (Space College/Spaceref) formed the ISEE-3 Reboot Mission and launched it as a crowdfunded project on RocketHub. The idea was to recommission the spacecraft, fire its engines, put it in Earth orbit, and perform new science along the lines of the original mission goals using this antique piece of space gear. The crowdfunding project reached and exceeded its funding goal, raising $159,502. The project’s mission control took residence in an abandoned McDonald’s restaurant (Building 596) adjacent to NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffat Field near Sunnyvale and Mountain View, California. (This same restaurant, now dubbed “McMoon’s,” was used to recover video from the 1960’s-era Lunar Orbiter mission seven years earlier.)Read more...
Cornerstone Identity exhibited a pocket-sized, Zynq-based iris ID scanner at last week’s ARM TechCon 2014 in Santa Clara. The small device images an eye and can identify a person using iris recognition at imaging speed, thanks to the iris-recognition hardware residing in the Zynq SoC’s PL (programmable logic). Here’s a photo of the scanner sitting atop some clear blocks:
Just a quick reminder: if you're at ARM TechCon, we're tearing down two really interesting Zynq-based products today at 11:30 am in the exhibit floor in the Expo Theater back in the far right corner of the exhibit space.
Oh, and we're giving away one National Instruments VirtualBench combo instrument to a lucky attendee. Unfortunately, as emcee I don't qualify to win.
See you there.
I just found out that National Instruments will be giving away one Zynq-based $1995 NI VirtualBench, a virtual instrument suite, at the 11:30am ARM TechCon Teardown Thursday event this Thursday, October 2. It won’t be the one we tear down. The NI VirtualBench incorporates the features of a mixed-signal oscilloscope, function generator, logic analyzer, DMM, programmable dc power supply, and a set of programmable digital I/O control lines in one compact package that won’t consume very much bench space. It uses either a PC or a Tablet as its user interface.
Teardown Thursday takes place at the ARM TechCon Expo Hall Theater on the exhibit floor. You need to come by if you want a chance to win this.
If you’re interested in 400GE (400Gbps Ethernet) then you’re likely headed to the WDM (aka the Next Generation Optical Networking) Conference Dallas 2014, which opens on October 7. While there, be sure to stop by the Xilinx stand (#23) to see a Spirent 400G Ethernet Test System connected to a Xilinx VCU109 Evaluation Board based on the Xilinx Virtex UltraScale VU095 FPGA board with four sets of 100Gbps Sumitomo Electric CFP4 LR4 optical modules plugged in. The Xilinx VU095 FPGA provides the high-speed SerDes ports needed to connect to the optical modules, the 400GE MAC and PCS IP needed to implement pre-standard 400Gbps Ethernet, and a packat generator/checker to create and monitor 400GE traffic. The Spirent tester, also based on Xilinx FPGAs, contains four sets of 100Gbps Oclaro CFP2 LR4 modules so there’s some optical interoperability being demonstrated as well.
For more information on the Spirent 400GE tester, see “Getting to 400G Ethernet: Inside the Spirent 400G Ethernet Test System.”
For more information on implementing 400GE with FPGAs, see “Huawei’s 400GE router successfully completes testing on Spirent’s new 400GE test platform—both enabled by the Virtex-7 H870T 3D FPGA.”
If you’re developing large IP blocks, then S2C has something to help you accelerate development: the AXI-4 Prototype Ready Quick Start Kit based on the Xilinx Zynq SoC and Xilinx Virtex-7 2000T 3D FPGAs. The Quick Start Kit couples a Xilinx Zynq ZC702 Evaluation Board to an S2C TAI Logic Module as showing in the following diagram:
The Xilinx ZC702 Evaluation Board has an on-board Zynq Z7020 SoC with a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor and a programmable logic capacity of 85K logic cells—equivalent to approximately 1.3M gates. The S2C Quick Start Kit expands this capacity by extending the Zynq SoC’s AXI-4 bus through an interface module to one or more external Xilinx Virtex-7 2000T 3D FPGAs on the S2C TAI Logic Module. Each Virtex-7 2000T FPGA has a capacity of 1,954,560 logic cells—a 23X expansion in programmable-logic capacity per FPGA. This added programmable-logic capacity allows designers to quickly leverage a production-proven, AXI-connected prototyping platform with a large and easily scaled logic capacity – all supported by a suite of prototyping tools from S2C.
A demonstration of the Kit will be shown at the S2C booth at ARM TechCon 2014 in Santa Clara, CA on October 1-3.
Note: For more information about S2C’s prototyping tools, see the Xcell Daily blog post “TAI Player Pro 5.1 prototyping tool automatically partitions very large designs across multiple Virtex-7 3D FPGAs.”
This week’s ARM TechCon in Santa Clara at the convention center. On Thursday at 11:30am, we’ll be tearing down two very interesting Zynq-based products on the exhibit floor. I suspect you won’t want to miss the event because I know there will be design tips galore revealed during these teardowns.
First, we’ll be pulling the covers off of the National Instruments VirtualBench, a many-instruments-in one-box product. (Something I’ve wanted to do ever since the product was announced a year ago.) The NI VirtualBench incorporates the features of a mixed-signal oscilloscope, function generator, logic analyzer, DMM, programmable dc power supply, and a set of programmable digital I/O control lines in one compact package that won’t consume very much bench space. It uses either a PC or a Tablet as its user interface.
National Instruments VirtualBench
The second product we’ll open up is the Cloudium Integrated Media Processing Platform, a fanless video compression/decompression box designed to move HD video and audio bidirectionally through the Internet and through the cloud with maximum efficiency. The box we’ll be opening up is called the Cloudium Systems Zero Client and the Zynq SoC inside the box provides flexibility that allows users to upgrade to new protocols easily without opening the box. But we’re going to open it anyway.
Cloudium Systems Zero Client
By Adam Taylor
In the last blog we looked at sharing data between the Zynq SoC’s two ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor. I noted that the approach used could have been improved—made more efficient—had we used software interrupts to communicate between the two cores.
Each ARM Cortex-A9 processor core in the Zynq SoC has 16 software-generated interrupts. Each processor can use these interrupts to interrupt itself, to interrupt the other processor core, or to interrupt both cores. For this example, we will use Core 0 to generate an interrupt that informs Core 1 that there has been an updated LED pattern received.
Using software interrupts is not too different from using hardware interrupts except of course in how we trigger them.Read more...
AMP—asymmetric multiprocessing—is a way to extract significant work from the two ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processors on the Xilinx Zynq All Programmable SoC. Avnet’s Ron Wright is currently touring the world with his AMP-for-Zynq X-fest class titled “Using Operating Systems on Zynq.” I learned a lot in this class and can highly recommend it.
Early in the class, Wright said “Until recently, AMP and SMP systems were ad hoc. Now there’s a framework.” VMware has been providing desktop virtualization using a hypervisor for a while, but embedded systems—particularly embedded systems for Zynq with its programmable logic capabilities—need something else, said Wright. They need paravirtualization, which restricts the number of OS calls providing a consistent emulation layer that hides the changing FPGA hardware beneath. As a result, the guest OS needs to know that it’s been virtualized.
Where does that paravirtualization come from? Virtio is the framework of choice for embedded Linux. Because we now have Virtio, embedded developers now increasingly use Linux as an embedded hypervisor.
Linux is the hypervisor.Read more...
RS Components distributes the Zynq-based Red Pitaya open-source measurement and control SOM board. Back in April, RS published an interview with unspecified members of the Red Pitaya design team. The answers to the questions are valuable for anyone considering the Zynq SoC for a design.Read more...