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Xcell Daily Blog (Archived) - Page 2

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Xcell Daily Blog (Archived) - Page 2

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

By Adam Taylor

 

It has taken us eight weeks to wrap up this example of the Adafruit NeoPixel driver using the Zynq-based MicroZed board but we’ve pulled together a number of concepts. I think this this is a good point to recap what this example has covered:

 

1)      The system of modules approach

2)      Communication between the Zynq SoC’s PS (processor system) and PL (programmable logic) side

3)      Using the IP catalog to reduce the number of custom modules we need to implement

4)      Creation of a Neo Pixel driver within the PL side of the Zynq SoC

5)      The verification approach to be undertaken

6)      Definition of a serial protocol to communicate with the Zynq SoC

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

The NI (National Instruments) GUI-based LabVIEW development environment has an FPGA module that allows you to extract real-time performance from several of the company’s FPGA- and Zynq-based hardware products. NI has just published a White Paper titled “LabVIEW FPGA 2013 Productivity Enhancements and Optimizations” that describes these new enhancements which fall into the following three categories:

 

Productivity Enhancements

 

  • FPGA High-Performance Linear Algebra Library: Advanced applications such as radio frequency communications, image and audio processing, heat distribution, and cryptography require high-performance algorithms on reconfigurable hardware. LabVIEW FPGA 2013 includes new IP libraries that allow you to easily implement FPGA-based high-performance algorithms.
  • Instrument Driver FPGA Extensions: Test engineers now have even more options for programming their software-designed instruments such as NI vector signal transceivers (VSTs) with the release of instrument driver FPGA extensions.
  • Improved Signal Visualization in Debugging Tools: You can use traditional debugging tools such as probes, execution highlighting, breakpoints, and single-stepping when simulating your FPGA VIs on the development computer. However, in FPGA designs that involve communication protocols, you need to view signals in relation to each other with history data in order to debug the application. LabVIEW FPGA 2013 introduces a new probe based on sampling events that makes it easy to visualize signals on a waveform graph including relevant timing information.
  • Extended I/O Simulation and Timing Control Capabilities: LabVIEW FPGA gives you the ability to generate I/O signals to simulate the functionality of real-world I/O. This is traditionally done by simulating random data or configuring a custom simulation VI. LabVIEW FPGA 2013 offers a more direct path for providing simulated data to your LabVIEW FPGA VI.
  • Dynamic Bitfile Deployment Options: Bitfiles contain all the information required to configure an FPGA device and are the result of the compilation process. The reconfigurable nature of FPGAs resides in these files in such a way that you can modify the functionality of a deployed device on the field by downloading a new bitfile dynamically. LabVIEW FPGA 2013 includes new options to manage and deploy different personalities for FPGA targets.

 

Proficiency Resources for LabVIEW RIO Developers

 

  • High-Performance RIO Developer's Guide: Similar to the popular NI LabVIEW for CompactRIO Developer's Guide, the High-Performance RIO Developer’s Guide helps you understand and apply high-performance RIO concepts such as single-cycle Timed Loop programming, data streaming, pipelining, handshaking, VHDL code integration, and other performance optimization techniques using NI FlexRIO and the NI PXI platform.
  • Self-Paced Online Training for LabVIEW Real-Time and FPGA: If you don’t have the time or resources to participate in an instructor-led training program, LabVIEW Real-Time 1, LabVIEW Real-Time 2: Architecting Embedded Systems, and LabVIEW FPGA are now available as self-paced online training.
  • Certified LabVIEW Embedded Systems Developer (CLED) Certification: A CLED demonstrates proficiency and expertise in analyzing requirements and designing, developing, debugging, and deploying mission critical, medium- to large-scale control and monitoring applications.

 

Compatibility with the Latest Hardware

 

  • Extended Processing and Throughput Capabilities With the NI cRIO-9068 System: The cRIO-9068 controller offers high performance with low-power consumption for advanced control and monitoring applications powered by LabVIEW FPGA. As part of the LabVIEW RIO architecture, the new NI cRIO-9068 software-designed controller is based on the Xilinx Zynq-7020 All Programmable SoC.
  • Increased Performance With 7 Series FPGA Family: The newest NI FlexRIO FPGA module combines the impressive signal-processing power of the Xilinx 7 series FPGA family with flexible, customizable I/O to form a high-performance, reconfigurable instrument powered by LabVIEW FPGA. The new NI PXIe-7975R is capable of streaming data at rates of up to 1.6 GB/s through its PCIe backend, and at up to 10GB/s to its 2 GB of on-board DRAM, enabling data-intensive applications such as medical imaging and record and playback. The available internal memory and digital-signal processing (DSP) slices make it ideal for real-time processing and analysis in RF communications and scientific research.

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

Click and Drag Your Embedded Industrial Controller’s Human Machine Interface Into the 21st Century” is the subject of a free June 26 Webinar being presented by IEEE Spectrum and the IEEE Educational Activities department. Presenters from Xylon and Xilinx will discuss new standards for operator display GUIs that greatly ease the use of and improve operator visibility into industrial system operation. With the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets in consumer markets, technical equipment operators are increasingly accustomed to using high-density graphical user interfaces, multi-touch screens, and highly interactive displays on their equipment. Industrial control is following this trend as a natural consequence.

 

This Webinar will cover everything you need to design a modern HMI into your system quickly and cost effectively. Topics covered will include:

 

  • High-performance graphics IP for HMI acceleration
  • Software ecosystems for embedded industrial HMIs
  • HMI software libraries

 

The Webinar is free and the IEEE Educational Activities department offers participants who have attended an IEEE Spectrum webinar the opportunity to earn PDH certificates.

 

Register here.

 

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

Electrocomponents plc announced today that its trading brands RS Components and Allied electronics are now taking orders for the Zynq-based Red Pitaya open instrument platform, a single-board instrumentation and control platform with high-speed analog inputs and outputs plus some digital capabilities. Xcell Daily has written about Red Pitaya several times:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Pitaya is an open-source, reconfigurable instrumentation platform with the ability to become a scope, a spectrum analyzer, a voltmeter, or whatever other mixed-signal device you can imagine—just add code. Your own code or code from the cloud-resident Red Pitaya Bazaar and Back Yard. The Red Pitaya is the brainchild of an experienced team of instrumentation engineers in Slovenia (that’s just to the right of Italy on the map if you are geographically challenged).

 

Here’s a photo of the product:

 

 Red Pitaya.gif

 

If you are interested in ordering one, you can do so at:

 

  • Allied Electronics, order here.
  • RS Components, order here.

 

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

A unique new Kickstarter project from Tokyo called Phenox is an intelligent quadcopter micro-drone that responds to spoken commands, whistle tones, and hand gestures. The autonomous micro-drone is small enough and light enough to land on and to take off from your hand. The Phenox’s on-board intelligence, supplied by a Xilinx Zynq SoC, allows the drone to autonomously fly and hover. Two on-board video cameras, a range sensor, an inertial measurement unit (IMU), and a microphone allow the Phenox to monitor its environment and respond accordingly. As the Kickstarter description says, “You have only to call and put out your hand to make interaction.”

 

 

Here’s the video from the Kickstarter project page:

 

 

 

 

The developers view Phenox as more than just a toy or drone; it’s a development platform for “flying apps.” Part of the Phenox project has involved developing an “intelligent self-control system” (ISCS) that provides the foundation for autonomous flying that apps developers can then build apps upon. ISCS is layered upon Linux, which runs on the Zynq SoC’s ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processors. The developers are using OpenCV libraries for developing computer-vision apps and the open-source Julius speech-recognition engine for developing voice-recognition and whistle- or sound-control apps. The developers have also created a PC-based app-development environment. The entire flying robot with battery weighs only 60 grams. The battery gives the micro-drone robot five minutes of air time between charges.

 

 

 

Here’s a photo of the control board, which has little more than the Zynq SoC, 256Mbytes of DDR3 SDRAM, an SD card socket, the downward-facing video camera, IMU, and power devices.

 

 

 

 

 Phenox Zynq board.jpg

 

 

 

 

Just three days into the funding campaign, backers have already pledged more than four times the financial pledges needed to fund the project, with another 27 days to go in the campaign.

 

 

 

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

Luke Miller’s latest SemiWiki blog is about the Red Pitaya open instrumentation platform and it’s fall-over funny if you’re amused by engineering humor. For example:

 

“The TeraTerm Screen was displaying all the usual CPU board goodies, more status you could shake a stick at. It even told me I was running a 20 out of 100 on the romantic scale, which is a new feature in Xilinx FPGAs called RomaticMon. You will not find that in…”

 

Here’s a photo of Luke running a spectrum analyzer app on the Red Pitaya with the display output broadcast to his Droid phone via WiFi:

 

 

Luke Miller Red Pitaya.jpg

 

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

The National Instruments (NI) R Series multifunction RIO devices give you a fast way to implement a data-acquisition instrument or a closed-loop controller using the LabVIEW Graphical Programming Environment and a USB port on your desktop or laptop computer.

 

NI R Series multifunction RIO devices.jpg 

 

 

The six previously announced members of the NI R Series were based on the PXI interface and Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs. The four new products are all based on Xilinx Kintex-7 All Programmable devices, with significant increases in resources, particularly DSP resources, as you can see from this graph:

 

 

NI R Series RIO Table.gif
 

 

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

In our last look at the Zynq SoC’s PS/PL interface, I created a very simple peripheral using a DSP48E1 DSP slice to perform multiplication, addition or subtraction depending on a control word in the peripheral’s first register. Suppose that we want to perform a more complex calculation within the Zynq, perhaps for an industrial control system. Typically these systems will have a number of analog inputs (via ADC’s), driven by sensors such as thermistors, thermocouples, pressure transducers, platinum resistance thermometers (PRTs) and so on.

 

Many times, data from these sensors require a transfer function to convert the raw data value from the ADC into one that can be used in further processing. A good example of this is with the Zynq XADC which contains a number of functions / macros within XADCPS.h to convert the raw XADC values into voltage or temperature. However, these conversions are pretty simple. The more complex they become, the more Zynq processing time is required. Calculation can be speeded up considerably if the programmable logic (PL) side of the Zynq SoC is used to perform these calculations. As a side benefit, the processor is also freed up to carry on with other software tasks so you get a significant improvement in processing bandwidth by using the PL for calculations.

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

Last week, I wrote about the Logitraxx robotic vehicle, a Kickstarter project based on the cost-effective Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA. At the time, you had to click on the Kickstarter link to see the cool video. (See “Logitraxx tracked robotic vehicle powered by Spartan-6 FPGA hits Kickstarter. Pledge now!”) Now, you can see the video here.

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

This 5-minute video, shot at Embedded World, discusses the long-term collaboration between Analog Devices and Xilinx to produce a range of analog/digital solutions for applications as diverse as wireless and RF signal processing, Software-Defined Radio (SDR) and motor control.

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

Zynq-based Red Pitaya is an open-source, reconfigurable instrumentation platform with the ability to become a scope, a spectrum analyzer, a voltmeter, or whatever other mixed-signal device you can imagine—just add code. Your own code or code from the cloud-resident Red Pitaya Bazaar and Back Yard. The Red Pitaya is the brainchild of an experienced team of instrumentation engineers in Slovenia (that’s just to the right of Italy on the map if you are geographically challenged). Red Pitaya started as a Kickstarter project last year and blew past its $50K funding goal by 5x by the time the pledge period ended. In case you don’t recall or didn’t see the original Xcell Daily blog about the Red Pitaya, here’s an image of it with detailed specs:

 

 

Red Pitaya Open Instrumentation Platform small.jpg 

 

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

Field-oriented control (also called vector control) is currently the hot motor-control technology for AC synchronous and induction motors because it allows these motors to operate over their full speed range, full torque at zero speed, with fast acceleration and deceleration with superior power consumption. What’s not to like? The complexity of the control algorithm.

 

The Mathworks’ MATLAB and Simulink development environment supports model-based design of field-oriented control (FOC) systems, allowing you to reduce the design complexity of FOC systems by modeling the motor, the drive electronics, and the environment in which the motor will be installed with models. The Mathworks has developed a workflow that takes the MATLAB FOC model and generates software and hardware-programming code for motor-control systems based on the Xilinx Zynq All Programmable SoC.

 

If you’re not familiar with model-based design, here’s a painless 4-minute video to get your feet wet. The explanation comes from Alexanter Schreiber, a Senior AE with The Mathworks. He spoke to Yvonne Lin from Xilinx at the recent SPS Drives 2013 trade show held late last year in Nuremberg, Germany.

 

 

 

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

Last week, I wrote about the recent introduction of an industrial servomotor drive controller from Wuhan Maxsine “Wuhan Maxsine employs Zynq SoC in new line of industrial servo controllers (to 380V, 5KW)”). In that blog post, I wrote that the Xilinx Zynq All Programmable SoC makes an ideal motor controller because “it fuses a very fast dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor with associated microprocessor peripherals and an advanced FPGA programmable-logic array developed for Xilinx 7 series All Programmable devices.” I also published a block diagram of a typical Zynq-based industrial motor-control system taken from the Xilinx White Paper “Using Xilinx Devices to Solve Challenges in Industrial Applications”:

 

 

Zynq Motor Control Block Diagram.jpg 

 

This diagram illustrates the many tasks an industrial motor controller must execute including motor control, system monitoring, implementing a user interface, and communications via Ethernet and various legacy communications protocols such as RS-232, RS-485, and CAN. The diagram also shows the connection to a motor through a block labeled “custom functions.” This is where the actual motor-control algorithms reside.

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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee

Wuhan Maxsine launched its POWERLINK Master line of high-performance industrial servo controllers last November at the China International Industry Fair 2013 (CIIF 2013). These Ethernet-based controller modules provide high-speed, real-time response (100µsec) for 220V or 380V servo motors with power ratings ranging from 100W to 5KW. High-power servo motors and the associated drive modules are used in a wide variety of motion-control applications including industrial robotics, CNC, textile manufacturing, packaging, printing, electronic assembly, and logistics movement/transportation. The new Wuhan Maxsine POWERLINK Master industrial servo controllers incorporate automatic vibration suppression, which permits smoother machinery operation to reduce wear and tear on both the machinery and the workpiece.

 

 

Wuhan Maxsine POWERLINK EP3E Servo Controllers.jpg 

 

Wuhan Maxsine POWERLINK Master line of industrial servo controllers at the China International Industry Fair 2013 (CIIF 2013) last November. Photo used with permission, reprinted from China's industrial network (http://www.gongkong.com)

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