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Posts Tagged ‘embedded’

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It’s time for Universities to say goodbye to their outdated FPGA boards and introduce the Xilinx® Zynq™ chip.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


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.


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.


Reprogrammable, reprogrammable, reprogrammable: What’s great about FPGAs!

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

I-loveFPGAsI like FPGAs. My first experience with an FPGA was my university final year project where I demonstrated BIST with four Xilinx© 3000 devices; this was before FPGAs had JTAG built in. Filling up these devices with ViewDraw schematics required many hours in front of a terminal.   Fast track to today’s advances such as Xilinx UltraScale and Vivado HLx, and I hope you would agree things have moved on quite a bit.


Amid all this changes, however, there are some things that have remained constant. Those are the three things that are great about FPGAs: they are reprogrammable, reprogrammable, and, they are reprogrammable!

So how is this capability utilized? Here are three examples:


Electronic products using FPGAs:

I think it is important not look at FPGAs as some poor cousin of an ASIC. This view is from the days of LSI Logic and Xilinx marketing battles, when FPGAs were used for mopping up “glue logic”. Today an FPGA provides a massively parallel programmable digital platform with a lot of silicon IP, such as high-performance interfaces. This capability is widely used by many industries now; it is not solely driven by the volume of parts. Today, you even find FPGAs in consumer products.


How HES™ Technology Solved Problems for These Users

Monday, October 20th, 2014

HES_USE_CASESRecognizing a problem that engineers are facing and developing a solution has been Aldec’s rather straight-forward mantra for going on thirty years now. Aldec launched its Hardware Emulation Solutions (HES) product in 2003, integrating RTL simulation with hardware emulation, and offering hardware and software design teams the ability to work concurrently. Today HES™ is a fully automated and scriptable HybridVerification and Validation environment for SoC and ASIC designs capable of bit-level simulation acceleration, SCE-MI 2.1 transaction emulation, hardware prototyping, and virtual modeling.


The 80s music at DAC was my idea. You’re welcome.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

If you attended the Monday Night Reception at DAC 2014, you were greeted with a blast of 80s pop music. If you then said to yourself, “I’d like to meet the genius behind that idea” – that would be me. A few weeks before DAC, our marketing manager came to me with the task of being the DJ for the Monday night reception. As soon as I heard “DJ” I envisioned turntables, cool headphones, disco lights and all the fame that follows. My dreams were dashed a few moments later when she explained that I would only have a PA and a laptop.

Undaunted, I resolved to be the best DJ in the history of DAC Monday Night Networking Receptions. The first challenge was finding music everyone would enjoy. I naturally settled on 80s pop as my genre. I had the brilliant idea of picking a few songs from each year and playing it as a progressive 80s timeline during the evening. I changed my mind when I realized that bright idea would require some serious manual research and work.

Did I give up? Of course not. I did what any good engineer would do – I found an easy (and smart) solution that did not require substantial extra effort – a bit like re-using verification ip’s instead of making them from scratch. This level of engineering genius is often mistakenly perceived as laziness, but I like to call it being smart. In fact I recently wrote a blog on the topic of working smart not hard.

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

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