The System Verification Forum previously found elsewhere on this website has been shut down. Last year the level of spam became intolerable. The site was changed to make posting more difficult. This resulted in a 90% reduction in spam but a 100% reduction in relevant posts. Therefor, I have decided to discontinue the forum. In its place, please feel free to post comments to this blog.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
For those of you living near Silicon Valley, this is a reminder that Denali MemCon is next week. Running Monday through Wednesday, June 22-24, it will include talks on NAND Flash Controllers, Solid State Drives (SSDs), DDR3 DRAM, and low power memory subsystems. The conference is being held at the Hyatt on Great America Parkway in Santa Clara. Registration is free.
See you there.
In case you missed it, DVCon 2009, the design and verification conference, starts Tuesday, 24 February. The conference takes place at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose, California.
I expect to be there all three days and would be happy to meet any FMF model users. So if you spot me, please stop me and say hello.
On the final day of the FPGA Summit I heard three presentations of particular interest:
“Choosing the Right Flash Memory for FPGA-Based Designs” by Olivier Mardinian of Spansion. Olivier gave a good account of the types of flash memories available and how to select one with the features you need for your design. He also talked about the support provided by Spansion to help you design in their components. This includes device drivers, programmers, a complete set of models (VHDL, Verilog, and IBIS) and app notes. Spansion and FMF have worked together for several years now so, I know how hard they work to make life easier for systems designers.
“Automating FPGA-Based System Design” by Nagesh Gupta of Taray. Nagesh talked about his company’s & Circuits product which makes optimizing FPGA pinouts much faster and easier. The tool has knowledge of FPGA I/O capabilities and allows an engineer to graphically assign a pinout that works for both FPGA and PCB routing. This tool provides its own graphical representation of the PCB layout and ratsnest so it is vendor neutral regarding the users schematic capture and PCB layout software. When I was CAE manager at Acuson, my engineers wrote an application with similar capabilities minus the nice graphical interface. If a commercial package like this had been available, we would have purchased it instead.
“Effective FPGA/PCB Co-Design” by Bob Potock of Mentor Graphics. Bob presented a tool that was very much like 7 Circuits. The primary difference seemed to be that it was tightly coupled to Mentor’s DxDesigner and Expedition tools. Having tools that are tightly coupled can be a significant productivity booster when everything works. If they don’t work or if you have multiple tool sets, something vendor agnostic mat serve you better. Both tools looked good.
Overall, I would say the conference was a success – at least from an attendees perspective. There was something over 500 people registered. I don’t have the actual attendance numbers. I am sure it will grow next year – the economy willing.
Wednesday at the FPGA Summit in San Jose was interesting and worthwhile. The morning session I attended was titled “Reconfigurable and High-Performance Computing”. It consisted of about a half dozen presentations but, there were two I found most intriguing.
The first was “FPGA Software Acceleration” by Stefan Mohl of Mitrionics. His company offers a hardware/software system for accelerating software using reconfigurable a FPGA based server. It begins with a C like language called Mitrion-C that facilitates writing parallelizable code. The code is than passed through a compiler where it is optimized and reduced to a bit stream for a high end Altera or Xilinx FPGA. The FPGA resides on a special motherboard in the server along with a standard AMD or Intel processor. A graphical debugger is included. The FPGA executes the code based on data dependencies not instruction ordering. Of course your performance improvement is dependent on the algorithms you are trying to accelerate.
The other presentation I found fascinating was titled “Dimensions in Reconfigurable Computing” by Joseph Hassoun of Element CXI. This company has created an IC called the ECA-64 that contains a processing fabric comprised of heterogeneous elements. Each element can be an ALU, Multiplier, etc. Development and configuration software are provided and a development board is also available.
The afternoon session was titled “FPGA Verification”. Although all the presenters did great jobs with their material, I was disappointed that none of them mentioned verification of FPGAs in the context of the boards they are designed into. I could speculate as why system verification gets so little attention but will save that for another post.