UPGRADE YOUR BROWSER

We have detected your current browser version is not the latest one. Xilinx.com uses the latest web technologies to bring you the best online experience possible. Please upgrade to a Xilinx.com supported browser:Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 11, Safari. Thank you!

cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Visitor jardell
Visitor
8,318 Views
Registered: ‎03-14-2011

USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

I am looking for schematics of this "programing cable". It is possible "DIY way" building? I have googled it for hours - no result. Thanks a lot!

Jardell

0 Kudos
1 Solution

Accepted Solutions
Highlighted
Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
10,804 Views
Registered: ‎07-30-2007

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

Just to be clear, custom implementations of the cable are NOT supported, so if you do try to make your own cable we will NOT help you with it.

0 Kudos
14 Replies
Contributor
Contributor
8,302 Views
Registered: ‎02-28-2008

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

Low-cost Chinese clones are available on Ebay, and there is one available from Digilent. I've got one of the latter, it works OK with a Spartan-3 board. It isn't really worth making your own.

Leon Heller
0 Kudos
Visitor jardell
Visitor
8,291 Views
Registered: ‎03-14-2011

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

Thank you very much! I understand but it is not only about money. 2 weeks ago I heard that Xilinx released some schematics and datasheets. Because of my studies I was interested into understanding how stuff works. Thats all.

0 Kudos
Teacher eteam00
Teacher
8,289 Views
Registered: ‎07-21-2009

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

Some of the Xilinx development boards have the equivalent of a USB platform cable embedded in the board design.  With this circuitry, you can connect to the board with a simple (passive) USB cable for all the USB Platform Cable functions (Impact, ChipScope, etc.).  As bassman points out in a later post in this thread, this hardware needs to be programmed with firmware that you would have to dig up on your own.

 

I'll let you do the searching for which boards those may be, and which of these boards have downloadable schematics for inspection.  I don't remember the product numbers of the top of my head.

 

-- Bob Elkind

SIGNATURE:
README for newbies is here: http://forums.xilinx.com/t5/New-Users-Forum/README-first-Help-for-new-users/td-p/219369

Summary:
1. Read the manual or user guide. Have you read the manual? Can you find the manual?
2. Search the forums (and search the web) for similar topics.
3. Do not post the same question on multiple forums.
4. Do not post a new topic or question on someone else's thread, start a new thread!
5. Students: Copying code is not the same as learning to design.
6 "It does not work" is not a question which can be answered. Provide useful details (with webpage, datasheet links, please).
7. You are not charged extra fees for comments in your code.
8. I am not paid for forum posts. If I write a good post, then I have been good for nothing.
0 Kudos
Historian
Historian
8,276 Views
Registered: ‎02-25-2008

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

 


@jardell wrote:

Thank you very much! I understand but it is not only about money. 2 weeks ago I heard that Xilinx released some schematics and datasheets. Because of my studies I was interested into understanding how stuff works. Thats all.


 

I believe that newer eval kits (Spartan 6/Virtex 6) have schematics that include the implementation of the USB-to-JTAG dongle.

 

Of course the micro firmware isn't available, and you need a driver, so ... just buy the Xilinx dongle and be done with it.

----------------------------Yes, I do this for a living.
0 Kudos
Highlighted
Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
10,805 Views
Registered: ‎07-30-2007

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

Just to be clear, custom implementations of the cable are NOT supported, so if you do try to make your own cable we will NOT help you with it.

0 Kudos
Observer beckettj
Observer
8,078 Views
Registered: ‎10-05-2009

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

After finding answer record #34529 and then this thread, I have to say I'm disappointed. The "embedded platform cable" is such a great idea. Why couldn't Xilinx sell a pre-programmed CoolRunner device, and at least publish the driver API? To partly answer my own question: because there probably isn't enough demand for it.

 

Now imagine a situation where you have two or more V-6 and/or S-6 FPGAs on a board. Perhaps you need fast Platform Flash, or just any ol' BPI flash. Sure, they could probably be gang programmed before assembly (can they?), but what if I wanted a single test and diagnostic utility that could be used by contract manufacturers, in-house refurb, R&D, and field service personnel? As it is, I would need to provide both my own utility (for use over PCI or USB, say), and a separate program (iMPACT) for field upgrades and initial card programming. The embedded solution requires only a single commodity USB cable and one utility program. I haven't considered how much effort would be required to reprogram the flash device(s) by downloading or embedding within my design my own flash programming kernel and connecting to it over PCI, etc. There is still development effort required however, and it doesn't help with virgin board programming.

 

Obviously developing one's own solution is not worth the cost, as noted by others above. Given Xilinx already has this alternate "solution," I can't see much risk to Xilinx in at least making an embedded version of the programmer available. I wish someone would consider it.

 

Cheers

0 Kudos
Teacher eteam00
Teacher
8,074 Views
Registered: ‎07-21-2009

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

The Xilinx USB Platform Cable (embedded or free-standing) is not a proper production solution.  And even if your product design is so constrained and limited that a XUSB Platform Cable was useful for production test, it would be silly to incorporate the cost of the embedded components in the product rather than in the test fixture.

but what if I wanted a single test and diagnostic utility that could be used by contract manufacturers, in-house refurb, R&D, and field service personnel?

Answer: Production test systems are usually used for in-circuit programming and in-circuit test.  This is what production houses use, and know how to use.  They handle the entire board, not just the FPGAs and FPGA configuration memory.

 

Such testers include JTAG, bed of nails, flying probes, and capacitive shrouds for implementing shorts/opens testing, power supply testing, and memory programming.

 

If you are concerned about production test and programming, you should give your contract manufacturer a call.  If the CM doesn't have a clue, you should be shopping for a different CM.  This all needs to be sorted out before you complete your board design, and your board design review process should include DFM (Design for Manufacturability) and DFT (Design for Testability) reviews.

 

-- Bob Elkind

SIGNATURE:
README for newbies is here: http://forums.xilinx.com/t5/New-Users-Forum/README-first-Help-for-new-users/td-p/219369

Summary:
1. Read the manual or user guide. Have you read the manual? Can you find the manual?
2. Search the forums (and search the web) for similar topics.
3. Do not post the same question on multiple forums.
4. Do not post a new topic or question on someone else's thread, start a new thread!
5. Students: Copying code is not the same as learning to design.
6 "It does not work" is not a question which can be answered. Provide useful details (with webpage, datasheet links, please).
7. You are not charged extra fees for comments in your code.
8. I am not paid for forum posts. If I write a good post, then I have been good for nothing.
0 Kudos
Observer beckettj
Observer
8,059 Views
Registered: ‎10-05-2009

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

> is not a proper production solution.

> it would be silly to incorporate the cost

 

You don't know that. Consider its utility in a low volume system-as-nearly-a-commodity that supports a high profit disposable item. You're generalizing.

 

> Production test systems are usually used for

. . . etc. Did I mention field service and R&D? Oh yea, I did. What the board house does is only part of the problem. What I want is a unified mfg/programming/refurb/test/diagnostic utility. Your reply doesn't really address my original lament, and looks more like an attempt to dispense some knowledge about something -- anything.

 

I simply expressed my opinion that I thought the Xilinx embedded programming solution could have merit, in some situations anyway. Thanks for your reply Bob; seeing as you have about 2600 of those around here, I'll take it for what it's worth.

 

Cheers

0 Kudos
Teacher eteam00
Teacher
8,053 Views
Registered: ‎07-21-2009

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

> is not a proper production solution.

> it would be silly to incorporate the cost

You don't know that.

It's a judgment that individual designer or project leaders get to make.

Consider its utility in a low volume system-as-nearly-a-commodity that supports a high profit disposable item.

For low volume, just use the Xilinx cable.  At the very least, you have one less item to program, less board space consumed, less board layout time, and you haven't burdened your parts list with components which aren't otherwise used in your design.

You're generalizing.

Why yes, I am.

> Production test systems are usually used for

. . . etc. Did I mention field service and R&D? Oh yea, I did.

Good question.  What advantage would embedded "USB Cable" provide to Field Service?  If the hardware has failed, the board is replaced.  The only useful purpose for the "USB Cable" is to provide firmware updates, and there are cheaper and more flexible means for firmware updates in the field than a Xilinx USB Platform Cable (embedded or not).  (another generalisation).

 

As for R&D -- that's a good application for a Xilinx USB Platform Cable, not embedded.  After all, that's the primary intended purpose for the Xilinx USB Platform Cable.

What the board house does is only part of the problem. What I want is a unified mfg/programming/refurb/test/diagnostic utility.

Agreed.  And an embedded USB Platform Cable would be an added burden (not a solution) to the production test/diagnostic requirement.

Your reply doesn't really address my original lament, and looks more like an attempt to dispense some knowledge about something -- anything.

OUCH!  I'm random?!

I simply expressed my opinion that I thought the Xilinx embedded programming solution could have merit, in some situations anyway. Thanks for your reply Bob; seeing as you have about 2600 of those around here, I'll take it for what it's worth.

My opinions are my own, you are welcome to use them or ignore them.

 

My credentials:

  • I've developed and brought to market low-volume industrial/professional products as well as high-volume (100K per month) consumer products.
  • I've worked with desktop JTAG-based board testers and high-volume bed-of-nails production testers used by Far East contract manufacturers.
  • I've developed circuit boards which are rigorously reviewed -- by people who are experts in such areas -- for cost, buildability, testability, reliability, and serviceability.

You can't plaster my resume on your design schematics and say 'I'm doing this because Bob Elkind said so'.  You have to justify and defend your own design decisions, based on your requirements and circumstances.  There's always room for differences in opinions and judgments.  If you thoughtfully consider what I've written, I've done my job here, even if our conclusions differ.

 

You must work in a small company.  Medium and larger companies will typically have dedicated production manufacturing support groups to assist the designers (and review their work as part of the product release process) in the areas of manufacturability, reliability, test, and service.  It is in your company's interests, generally speaking, to work together with these folks rather than butt heads with them.  But that's another discussion topic entirely.

 

-- Bob Elkind

SIGNATURE:
README for newbies is here: http://forums.xilinx.com/t5/New-Users-Forum/README-first-Help-for-new-users/td-p/219369

Summary:
1. Read the manual or user guide. Have you read the manual? Can you find the manual?
2. Search the forums (and search the web) for similar topics.
3. Do not post the same question on multiple forums.
4. Do not post a new topic or question on someone else's thread, start a new thread!
5. Students: Copying code is not the same as learning to design.
6 "It does not work" is not a question which can be answered. Provide useful details (with webpage, datasheet links, please).
7. You are not charged extra fees for comments in your code.
8. I am not paid for forum posts. If I write a good post, then I have been good for nothing.
Moderator
Moderator
4,414 Views
Registered: ‎06-30-2010

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

All of the posters here are correct, the configuration cables are only intended for prototyping and should not be used in production.

 

The newer demo boards do have the USB cable essentially built in to them, the schematics for this are not given out either is the programming files for the CPLD.

 

Using a non-genuine configuration cables is not supported.

 

If you are prototyping it is best to just buy the cables and if you are doing a production run you would need to use a HW programmer.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Don’t forget to reply, kudo, and accept as solution.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
0 Kudos
Observer beckettj
Observer
4,407 Views
Registered: ‎10-05-2009

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

> If you are prototyping it is best to just buy the cables and if you are doing a

> production run you would need to use a HW programmer.

 

All very true, and certainly what my organization does and has done in the past. I think I have at least one of every Xilinx programming cable made. . . .

 

Initial manufacturing and prototyping weren't really my primary concerns. Why I found the embedded programming hardware compelling was for the ease of upgradeability in-system. A unified test/diagnosic/upgrade utility could use whatever relevant interface was needed to talk to my hardware. In this case, a turnkey USB-based solution with no additional hardware and/or firmware development.

 

The relatively small incremental hardware cost is acceptable to my organization to enable said software utility, for product sustaining, field service, and refurb use. I suppose Xilinx has not considered that, or has determined the demand would be too low. It's that solution versus an update mechanism that delivers the configuration files via the hardware's primary interface, but which requires the aforementioned hardware and/or firmware development. That's what we've always done, and that's what we'll continue to do.

 

Cheers

0 Kudos
Voyager
Voyager
4,401 Views
Registered: ‎10-01-2007

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

Avnet has an embeddable USB-JTAG option that you might consider.  You can see this in action on the Spartan-6 MicroBoard -- www.em.avnet.com/s6microboard.  This board includes a full-speed USB-JTAG circuit which is available from us in module form for <$15 in volume.  This does require extra software setup to install the cable driver in v12 and v13.1 software, but then it does work natively with iMPACT, ChipScope, and SDK Debugger.  It is scheduled to be supported natively in a ISE 13.2 release.  This full-speed module is acceptable for configuring small FPGAs, but not great for Flash programming or MicroBlaze debugging.

 

A high-speed module will also be available very soon.  I expect this one will be ~$25 in volume.  Same principle as above, just much better performance.  In some benchmarking that we did in iMPACT 13.1, we used a very large (~10MB) Flash image and indirect SPI programming on Spartan-6.

1)      New High-speed USB-JTAG (running at 30MHz, max speed) = 206 seconds

2)      New High-speed USB-JTAG (running at 10MHz, default speed) = 242 seconds

3)      Xilinx PC-USB (running at 12MHz, default speed) = 635 seconds

So, you can see the performance of the high-speed option is very good.  If you're interested, please contact me off-line, and I can get you more information.

 

Bryan


0 Kudos
Historian
Historian
4,384 Views
Registered: ‎02-25-2008

Re: USB Platform Cable

Jump to solution

 


@beckettj wrote:

> If you are prototyping it is best to just buy the cables and if you are doing a

> production run you would need to use a HW programmer.

 

All very true, and certainly what my organization does and has done in the past. I think I have at least one of every Xilinx programming cable made. . . .

 

Initial manufacturing and prototyping weren't really my primary concerns. Why I found the embedded programming hardware compelling was for the ease of upgradeability in-system. A unified test/diagnosic/upgrade utility could use whatever relevant interface was needed to talk to my hardware. In this case, a turnkey USB-based solution with no additional hardware and/or firmware development.

 

The relatively small incremental hardware cost is acceptable to my organization to enable said software utility, for product sustaining, field service, and refurb use. I suppose Xilinx has not considered that, or has determined the demand would be too low. It's that solution versus an update mechanism that delivers the configuration files via the hardware's primary interface, but which requires the aforementioned hardware and/or firmware development. That's what we've always done, and that's what we'll continue to do.

 

Cheers


 

I see what you're doing, and I agree that having some sort of field-programmability/upgrade capability (after all, these things are called "FIELD PROGRAMMABLE gate arrays") is useful.

 

One thing to consider is that if you provide an iMPACT-compatible interface to your product, that will require that you distribute the iMPACT software with your new binary. I'm not sure how you'd go about doing that in terms of the legality of distributing Xilinx' software.

 

My current design has, in addition to a V4, a standalone microcontroller, which among other things, handles communication to a host computer over an RS232 port. Attached to the micro is an SPI dataflash, which at 16 Mb is large enough to hold two V4LX15 configurations. At boot time, the micro reads the desired configuration from the dataflash and configures the FPGA. Also, via a simple command from the host, the micro will configure the FPGA with the other binary image. I wrote a simple command-line program to upload a new configuration binary to the product from the host computer, and it requires no drivers or anything special. It just uses the communications channel that already exists. 

----------------------------Yes, I do this for a living.
Teacher eteam00
Teacher
4,381 Views
Registered: ‎07-21-2009

field upgrades

Jump to solution

One thing to consider is that if you provide an iMPACT-compatible interface to your product, that will require that you distribute the iMPACT software with your new binary. I'm not sure how you'd go about doing that in terms of the legality of distributing Xilinx' software.

Bassman makes an excellent point.  Compounding the issue is that the Windows driver for the USB platform cable has been the subject of many many forum posts expressing profound frustration and disgust (I plead guilty to same).  But wait...   there's more...

 

If the firmware update requires a customer site visit by a field service tech, it is a very expensive update procedure.

 

You can spend a considerable amount of time and money developing an idiot-proof (i.e. customer-resistant) hardware and software solution, and still come out miles (or kilometres) ahead of the solution requiring on-site service call.

 

You can use an onboard micro with RS-232, micro with USB, micro with e'net, USB-serial bridge to FPGA, etc. etc. etc.  There are many solutions, some of which add pennies (at most) to your circuit board cost.

 

If you think IMPACT and embedded USB platform cable is an inexpensive in-the-field solution, you might wish to re-consider.

 

-- Bob Elkind

SIGNATURE:
README for newbies is here: http://forums.xilinx.com/t5/New-Users-Forum/README-first-Help-for-new-users/td-p/219369

Summary:
1. Read the manual or user guide. Have you read the manual? Can you find the manual?
2. Search the forums (and search the web) for similar topics.
3. Do not post the same question on multiple forums.
4. Do not post a new topic or question on someone else's thread, start a new thread!
5. Students: Copying code is not the same as learning to design.
6 "It does not work" is not a question which can be answered. Provide useful details (with webpage, datasheet links, please).
7. You are not charged extra fees for comments in your code.
8. I am not paid for forum posts. If I write a good post, then I have been good for nothing.
0 Kudos