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Observer zhouyun
Registered: ‎09-04-2007

Spartan 3A DSP starter platform board

Hi, I am building an decoder which I plan to order the new Spartan xtremeDSP starter platform for implementation.
I have a few questions about how to perform hardware testing using the board since my previous work only involves writing VHDL codes...
1) the board supports USB download cable and various other ports, since USB only supports up to 480 Mbps, and I need input data rate for FPGA at 2Gbps, which port should I use? Or is it simply impossible to achieve such high data rate?
2) There is so called "hardware in the loop" testing, what software and/or hardware should I have in order to setup such a testing environment?
3) Is there any documents or articles tutoring on such topics?
Thanks in advance!
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4 Replies
Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
Registered: ‎08-13-2007

Re: Spartan 3A DSP starter platform board

I'll admit I'm not the hw co-sim expert, but can probably help you get started:

1) Generally I see 2 techniques used to get such high input data rates
-Multi-gigabit transceivers (e.g. GT, GT11, GTP transceivers as found on Virtex-II Pro, Virtex-4 FX, Virtex-5 LXT/SXT). This is not an option for the Spartan-3 products (3/3E/3A/3AN/3A DSP)
-parallel LVDS interface

This board includes an EXP interface. It is possible to use an existing EXP board or design your own. Avnet has a number available:
Sorry for the long URL. You will have to make sure your web browser uses the complete link if it is broken up here by my posting.

2) You generally need
-board such as the S3A DSP starter kit
-JTAG interface: JTAG cable such as the Platform USB cable, but some boards (e.g. ML402) support this over pt-to-pt Gigabit Ethernet for hw co-sim. You will want a programming cable anyway to get your design into the FPGA

-Xilinx Foundation ISE or WebPACK (assuming your device can be supported by the free WebPACK tools). See here for the differences here:
http://www.xilinx.com/ise/devsys_feature_guide.pdf (WebPACK 9.2 supports the XC3SD1800A but not the XC3SD3400A - should be ok here)
http://www.xilinx.com/ise/products/classics/parts_list.htm (older WebPACK versions. Note that Spartan-3A DSP is a new family and not supported by previous versions)
-Xilinx System Generator
-Mathworks MATLAB and Simulink
-Xilinx Chipscope Pro (optional)
-you will also want the latest Xilinx service packs and IP updates available here:

I hope this helps.


== edit to correct formatting

Message Edited by timpe on 10-05-2007 04:17 PM

Message Edited by timpe on 10-05-2007 04:22 PM
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Observer zhouyun
Registered: ‎09-04-2007

Re: Spartan 3A DSP starter platform board

Hi, I find the following information in System Generator Getting Started Guide.

Software Prerequisites
You must have the following software installed before installing System Generator.
• One of the following versions of MATLAB from The MathWorks Inc.:
• MATLAB v7.3/Simulink v6.5 (R2006b)
• MATLAB v7.4/Simulink v6.6 (R2007a)
Note: MATLAB must be installed in a directory with no spaces (e.g., C:\MATLAB\R2007a).
• Xilinx ISE Foundation version 9.2.01i (9.2 Service Pack 1) or later, along with the full
version of the ISE Simulator.
• Xilinx ISE IP 9.2i Update 1 (I9.2i IP1)

It seemed contradict your reply that ISE webpack will be sufficient for the Spartan 3A DSP Starter platform.

But I do notice that the latest System Generator Guide version was from August 2007, at that time the Spartan DSP starter platform was not available yet. Could this be a possible reason that the System Generator required ISE foundation? Since the parts supported were only supported by ISE Foundation.
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Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
Registered: ‎08-13-2007

Re: Spartan 3A DSP starter platform board

Good catch. Sorry for any potential confusion.
In general, the primary difference between ISE WebPACK and ISE Foundation is device support.
There are 2 other differences between these tools in 9.2i are:
-WebPACK does not support Solaris 9/10
-ISE Simulator is an option for ISE Foundation but not for ISE WebPACK. Both include the Lite version, which has some restrictions compared to the full ISE Simulator version.
If you'll notice the requirements it states that the "full version of the ISE Simulator". I suspect the intention here is to eliminate a potential issue of you running into a limitation because of the number of lines required if you are using ISE Simulator Lite as your simulator. Since SysGen can generate HDL based on your usage of Xilinx blocksets, you generally don't have direct control or visibility of the number of lines of code if you are using this as a flow. Stating the requirement as the full version of ISE Simulator (which is only available as an optional add-on to ISE Foundation and not WebPACK) eliminates this issue. Using the Lite version could have an effect on simulation performance.
I have heard that SysGen 9.2i will work with WebPACK. But to be clear, I am not officially speaking for Xilinx Technical Support or the SysGen development team. I also want to be clear that there could be possible simulation issues.
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Observer zhouyun
Registered: ‎09-04-2007

Re: Spartan 3A DSP starter platform board

Well, I think now I have a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations for hardware co-simulation.

Since my codes are almost ready and I really do not need System Generator for generating the codes, is there a more straight forward way of testing the system on hardware?
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