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Oki, Lexra roll out prototyping boards for SoCs

Posted: 15 Apr 2001 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:microplat? soc? ip? sdk? fpga?

Prototyping boards that allow both hardware emulation and early software development have been released by Oki Semiconductor and Lexra Inc. Boards from both companies are intended to speed time-to-silicon for complex SoC designs.

The Oki microPlat (Micro-plat) Prototyping System supports the vendor's microPlat architecture, introduced in early 2000. The microPlat architecture is a platform-based design product that uses an ARM7 processor and Advanced Microcontroller Bus Architecture.

The Prototyping System includes a board with an evaluation chip, memory, Amba AHB bus interface and FPGAs for user logic and intellectual-property (IP) blocks. It comes with an ARM-based Software Development Toolkit (SDK) and a Verilog testbench for hardware-description language simulation.

"What the board allows you to do is to develop software while the chip is being fabbed," said Fred Camp, Oki director of marketing. "You can do things in parallel, so that by the time you get silicon, you are off and running." Further, he noted, the board's AHB bus support allows designers to plug in IP blocks and run hardware emulation.

At the core

At the heart of the board is a microPlat evaluation chip. It contains a 32bit ARM7TDMI RISC core, an 8KB unified cache, an external memory controller (XMC), timers, interrupt controller, serial interface and power-management features. The evaluation chip also includes such IP blocks as a USB controller, 16bit parallel I/O port and a UART.

XMC expansion devices support the addition of 16MB of synchronous DRAM, 8MB of Flash ROM, 2MB of low-power SRAM and a 16MB PCMCIA host adapter. The board also includes expansion controllers for the AHB and APB bus standards, a clock generator, power-supply generator and configuration switches.

User logic can be loaded into one of two Xilinx FPGAs on the board, and designers can plug in an additional board with more FPGAs. Camp said that users should be able to emulate a two million to three million-gate-system. The processor runs at 60MHz, but the FPGAs probably will not run that fast, he acknowledged. "If it is not a real high-performance function, and FPGAs can handle the speed, we can actually do a full-speed emulation of the system," Camp said.

RTOS support

The SDT includes ARM compilers and debuggers, along with a behavioral model of the microPlat core. RTOS support includes the Japanese Itron RTOS, with Wind River VxWorks support. The Prototyping System is available for $5,000. Further information is at

Meanwhile, microprocessor IP provider Lexra is releasing the second generation of its prototyping board. The LX-PBK20K hardware/software development board lets users place a lot more of their own logic on the board than Lexra's previous offering did, said Charlie Cheng, Lexra president and CEO.

The board includes as many as four Altera 20K1500 devices. This will probably allow emulation of a million-gate system, Cheng said. An ASIC test chip can include one or more Lexra processors, various memory configurations, a coprocessor interface, L-Bus (Lexra bus) devices and custom logic. While the test chip can run as fast as 200MHz, Cheng said, the board itself will probably top out around 35MHz or 40MHz.

The board supports the EDB source-level debugger and Majicplus emulator from Embedded Performance Inc., along with the Multi source-level debugger from Green Hills Software. RTOS support includes VxWorks, Nucleus and Threadx.

The board accommodates additional EPROM, SDRAM and standard I/Os. The LX-PB20K sells for $7,500 without programmable-logic devices. Further information is at

? Richard Goering

CMP Media

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