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Adam Taylor’s MicroZed Chronicles Part 197, UltraZed Edition Part 13: Zynq MPSoC Real-Time Processing Unit’s Operating Modes

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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By Adam Taylor



So far on this journey (which is only just beginning) of looking at the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC we have explored mostly the A53 processors within the Application Processing Unit (APU). However, we must not overlook the Real-Time Processing Unit (RPU), which contains two ARM Cortex-R5 32 bit RISC processors and operates within the Zynq MPSoC’s PS’ (processing systems’) Low Power Domain.






R5 RPU Architecture



The RPU executes real-time processing applications, including safety-critical applications. As such, you can use it for applications that must comply with IEC61508 or ISO 26262. We will be looking at this capability in more detail in a future blog. To support this, the RPU can operate in two distinct modes:


  • Split or Performance: - Both cores operate independently
  • Lock-Step: - Both cores operate in lockstep


Of course, it is the lock-step mode which is implemented as one step when a safety application is being implemented (see chapter 8 of the TRM for full safety and security capabilities). To provide deterministic processing times, both ARM Cortex-R5 cores include 128KB of Tightly Coupled Memory (TCM) in addition to the Caches and OCM (on-chip memory). How the TCMs are used depends upon the operating mode. In Split mode, each processor has 128Kbytes of TCM (divided into A and B TCMs). In lock-step mode, there is one 256Kbyte TCM.





RPU in Lock Step Mode



At reset, the default setting configures the RPU to operate in lock-step mode. However, we can change between the operating modes while the processor group is in reset. We do this by updating the RPU Global Control Register SLCAMP bit, which clamps the outputs of the redundant processors, and the SLSPLIT bit, which sets the operating mode. We cannot change the RPU’s operating mode during operation, so we need to decide upfront during the architectural phase which mode we desire for a given application.


However, we do not have to worry about setting these bits when we use the debugger or generate a boot image. Instead we can use these to configure the operating mode. What I want to look at in the rest of the blog is look at how we configure the RPU operating mode both in our debug applications and boot-image generation.


The first way that we verify many of our designs is to use the System Debugger within SDK, which allows us to connect over JTAG or Ethernet and download our application. Using this method, we can of course use breakpoints and step through the code as it operates, to get to the bottom of any issues in the design. Within the debug configuration tab, we can also enable the RPU to operate in split mode if that’s the mode we want after system reset.





Debug Configuration to enable RPU Split Mode



When you download the code and run it on the Zynq MPSoC’s RPU, you will be able to see the operating mode within the debug window. This should match with your debug configuration setting.





Debug Window showing Lock-Step Mode



Once we are happy with the application, we will want to create a boot image and we will want to determine the RPU operating mode when we create that boot image. We can add the RPU elf to the FSB, FPGA, and APU files using the boot-image dialog. To select the RPU mode, we choose the edit option and then select the destination CPU—either both ARM Cortex-R5 cores in lockstep or the ARM Cortex-R5 core we wish it run on if we are using split mode.






Selecting the R5 Mode of operation when generating a boot image



Of course if we want to be sure we are in the correct mode in this operation, we need to read the RPU Global Control register and ensure the correct mode is selected as expected.


Now that we understand the different operating modes of the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC’s RPU, we can come back to these modes when we look at the security and safety capabilities provided by the Zynq MPSoC.



Code is available on Github as always.


If you want E book or hardback versions of previous MicroZed chronicle blogs, you can get them below.




  • First Year E Book here
  • First Year Hardback here.



MicroZed Chronicles hardcopy.jpg 



  • Second Year E Book here
  • Second Year Hardback here


MicroZed Chronicles Second Year.jpg 


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