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An Easier Path to Faster C with FPGAs

Monday, November 14th, 2016

For most scientists, what is inside a high-performance computing platform is a mystery. All they usually want to know is that a platform will run an advanced algorithm thrown at it. What happens when a subject matter expert creates a powerful model for an algorithm that in turn automatically generates C code that runs too slowly? FPGA experts have created an answer.

More and more, the general-purpose processor found in server-class platforms is yielding to something more optimized for the challenges of high-performance computing (HPC). Advanced algorithms like convolutional neural networks (CNNs), real-time analytics, and high-throughput sensor fusion are quickly overwhelming traditional hardware platforms. In some cases, HPC developers are turning to GPUs as co-processors and deploying parallel programming schemes – but at a massive cost in increased power consumption.

A more promising approach for workload optimization using considerably less power is hardware acceleration using FPGAs. Much as in the early days of FPGAs where they found homes in reconfigurable compute engines for signal processing tasks, technology is coming full circle and the premise is again gaining favor. The challenge with FPGA technology in the HPC community has always been how the scientist with little to no hardware background translates their favorite algorithm into a reconfigurable platform.
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FPGA VHDL Verification – Can we do this faster – with better quality – at no extra cost?

Monday, November 14th, 2016

As I recently shared, UVVM, VHDL’s long-awaited alternative to UVM, promises to be interesting. Later this week, I’ll be joined by Espen Tallaksen, Bitvis Managing Director and Founder for a joint webinar, UVVM – A game changer for FPGA VHDL Verification.

Below, please find Espen Tallaksen’s recent guest blog on the topic that originally appeared on the Aldec Blog.

FPGA VHDL Verification
How can we do this faster and with better quality – at no extra cost?
by Espen Tallaksen, Bitvis Managing Director and Founder

This is actually possible – and with an average efficiency improvement of 20 to 50% for medium to high complexity FPGAs. Less for data path oriented designs and more for control or protocol oriented designs. At no extra cost.

 All that is required is that you do your testbench development the same way you do your design. Every single FPGA designer knows that a good top level design architecture is critical. Most FPGA designers also know that a good microarchitecture is at least as important for module design. It should thus be obvious that a good architecture is also equally important for your testbench, but for some strange reason most testbenches do not have the same good architecture as the design being verified.

Most designers agree that the following are critical for an efficient development of a high quality design module:

-          Overview, Readability, Simplicity

-          Modifiability, Maintainability, Extendibility

-          Debuggability

-          Reusability

So why should testbenches be any different, with on average the same time usage as the actual design?

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Beer, Cars, and Verification. My thoughts after DVCon Europe

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

DVCon-Europe-AldecAs I write this, I am visiting the Aldec corporate office in the US on the day following their historical presidential election. It’s been a busy travel season for this product manager, and only a few weeks ago I was at DVCon Europe in Munich – the city of pork knuckles, beer… and of course, cars.

Munich-DVCon-EuropeThe DVCon Europe conference is certainly growing, and the methodology presented yearly continues to be more mature and ready to use. This year’s DVCon Europe was not thematically different from other conferences. Subjects like Automotive and IoT have flourished these past few years.

Yet, nowhere else like here in the heart of Bavaria has the discussion about cars acquired such importance. In this region known as the European Detroit, cars are a secular religion.

A few years ago we were wondering… how? Two years ago… when? Today production has its hands full and engineers are simply wondering… what’s next?

As with the American election, there is a sense that we are awaiting another revolution. Within a few dozen years, internal combustion engines will become extinct like dinosaurs, or become as Juergen Weyer of NXP has said, like “Kodak in the era of digital photography”.

And so we turn to the electronics field as the main solution for this new era. With this turn, ahead of us opens up new challenges related to design and testing, not to mention the safety of billions of users.

In the vastness of topics such as Automotive and IoT, I would not want us to miss this nugget from this year’s DVCon Europe Conference: UVVM, VHDL’s long-awaited alternative to UVM. With the large presence of VHDL in Europe, Universal VHDL Verification Methodology (UVVM) could not have been born anywhere else. The concept is based on the Bus Functional Model enriched by the favor of the well-known and liked OSVVM… and it promises to be interesting.

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FPGAs Accelerating IoT Gateway and Infrastructure Tiers

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become the main topic in the technological world; it seems everybody is talking about it as the next wave in electronic systems. The scope of the IoT is so wide now, some have suggested changing the name to the Internet of Everything. We now expect all devices we use in our personal and professional lives to be connected, starting from the obvious ones in smartphones and computers, going through wearables, smart home and security devices, to industrial automation applications, and of course automotive electronics.

Creating devices for the IoT is a big challenge for engineering teams at the design and verification levels, but also at the application and data levels. As all those devices (already estimated to number in the billions, and growing) start generating their data, IoT gateways and infrastructure will need to experience a new revolution. Clouds and data farms will become a common medium not only for data storage and message exchange, but also for processing and analytics which will require much more specialized computing power.

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It’s Time to Get Your University in Sync with Zynq: Insight From a College Student

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Today’s article is authored by Zach Nelson, Aldec FAE Intern. Zach is a Field Application Engineer Intern with Aldec, working in tandem with his fellow interns to develop hardware specific applications. He is set to graduate with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2017. His field interests include ASIC Design & Solid State Electronics.

It’s time for Universities to say goodbye to their outdated FPGA boards and introduce the Xilinx® Zynq™ chip. The Zynq chip is a device which combines an FPGA fabric with a processing unit. The Zynq chip is very similar to other FPGA devices, but it does have a few key advantages and features that can enhance your designs and increase its capabilities.

What can Zynq do?

The Zynq chip has applications in the design fields related to:

  • FPGA
    • Digital Design
    • VHDL/Verilog
  • Embedded Systems
    • Robotics
    • IoT
    • Factory Automation
  • Algorithm Implementations
    • Signal Processing
    • Video/Image Processing

FPGA

The Programmable-Logic can be used in isolation of the processor which allows it to be used like a general FPGA device which can help support the topics covered in any VHDL/Verilog class as well as Digital Design. It is much easier to facilitate growth and learning in a project-based curiculum when you have a device such as the Zynq to interface with.

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Introduction to AXI Protocol: Understanding the AXI interface

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Introduction-to-AXI-ProtocolToday’s article is authored by Brandon Wade, Aldec FAE Intern. Brandon is currently working on his B.S. in computer engineering from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is set to graduate in 2017. His interests include processor architectures, and the logic of these hardware designs. As a field application engineer intern, Brandon has worked extensively with Aldec’s own simulation software such as Active-HDL and Riviera-PRO. 

When part of a team, your group can become more capable than a single individual, but only if your team can work together and communicate effectively. Having members of a group talk over each other leads to nothing but a cacophony, and nothing gets done. For this reason protocols need to be established, such as letting others speak without interruption, or facing those you are addressing. The same is necessary with electronics, especially with system on chip (SoC) designs.

The protocol used by many SoC today is AXI, or Advanced eXtensible Interface, and is part of the ARM Advanced Microcontroller Bus Architecture (AMBA) specification. It is especially prevalent in Xilinx’s Zynq devices, providing the interface between the processing system and programmable logic sections of the chip.

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Simulate UVM & SystemVerilog online for free

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Aldec-on-EDA-Playground-200-170During a recent trip to Austin, Texas, I spent some time with Aldec Partner, Victor Lyuboslavsky of Victor EDA and creator of the EDA Playground. Victor EDA is one of those organizations that Aldec aligns easily with because we share a strong commitment to accelerate learning within the engineering community by providing the right tools, training and resources.

As a result of this partnership, we are pleased to announce that Aldec Riviera-PRO EDU™ Advanced Verification Platform is now available on EDA Playground.

Here’s an excerpt from Victor’s recent guest blog post on the Aldec Design and Verification Blog, that illustrates how engineers can benefit from leveraging this tool to practice UVM & SystemVerilog simulation:

You may have found yourself among those eyeing the job market and wondering, “How hard is it to switch fields and become a verification engineer?”

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It’s no accident that Aldec offers the best VHDL-2008 support

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Here at the Aldec corporate office, we have a sign that reminds us all of our mission in the field of Technology. It reads, ‘To deliver solutions that provide the highest productivity to value ratio; supporting our existing products while delivering innovation to current and new technologies’. We have similar statements to reaffirm our commitment in the areas of Research, Alliances, and Culture – we call it our “Aldec DNA”.

Because we genuinely want to have a clear understanding of our user’s requirements and methodology preferences, we continually engage in surveys and interviews.  The knowledge we gain better positions us to support our existing products and to deliver that support where it matters the most to our users. If you’ve ever had that frustrating experience where your favorite tool no longer supports your methodology of choice – then you understand why this is so important.

Our Commitment to the VHDL Community

When it comes to VHDL-2008, we have learned from our customers that many are happy using the methodology – and continue to successfully deliver cutting-edge technology with it. So, while we remain committed to delivering innovation to new technologies, our R&D teams also invest a great deal of development time to ensure that Aldec solutions continue to offer a high level of support for popular languages like VHDL.

For the rest of this article, visit the Aldec Design and Verification Blog.

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