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USB box works as general-purpose hardware resource

Posted: 06 Dec 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Byte Paradigm? GP-22050 BASE? usb?

GP-22050 BASE

As a plug-and-play box that is priced at about $1,000, Byte Paradigm's GP-22050 BASE can operate as either a bi-directional instrument or as a single-direction device. Each pin or signal can be individually defined as an input, an output or as a bi-directional line. The GP-22050's programmable interface then communicates to your PC through a plug-and-play USB 2.0 interface.

A set of 34 flying lead wires serve to connect the GP-22050 to your unit under test, much like a logic analyzer probe does. As such, a pin header must be included on your target's design where access is required. A standard way flat cable can also be used, but that may hinder pin mapping and limit multiple board access points.

By means of programmable hardware acceleration, the GP-22050 is able to generate almost any serial or parallel protocol that fits in 16 address/data lines and six control lines, with up to 50MHz performance (100MBps in burst).

Dedicated processing units
The GP-22050's hardware accelerator uses several dedicated processing units to guarantee signal timing accuracy and overall throughput. In use, the accelerator reduces control data flow to a minimum in order to reserve the available bandwidth for data transfer. Data compression is used to get the most from the USB port's bandwidth.

The system's accelerator processor is performance realtime cycle-accurate, and includes its own local memory for data buffering. You get arbitrary and repetitive cycle-accurate sequences on control lines, and trigger responses upon detection of arbitrary sequences on control lines (data lines can also be used for some applications). The processor can also sync I/O outgoing data with control signals, as needed.

A prototyping access point
According to Byte's marketing manager Frederic Leens, the GP-22050 BASE is considered as an access point, rather than just a PC-based logic analyzer and controller. "It provides multiple and flexible bi-directional access points to a system-on-board under test," explained Leens.

"Its main purpose is to complement existing lab equipment for tasks that require enhanced flexibility and/or controllability, not necessarily pure performance." Leens emphasized that the GP-22050 BASE is very useful during prototyping, where you can have real environmental continuity between your development environment and the validation, test, and debug environment.

"It can also be readily controllable for repetitive and cumbersome lab tasks such as controlling a digital-to-analog converter, sending a stimulus to some intellectual, property block in an FPGA. It can produce an arbitrary stimulus and collect the results, and access a component through a custom or standard (such as JTAG) debug port."

Applications abound
As such, applications abound. You could, for example, use the GP-22050 BASE for IEEE-1149.1 JTAG access, or as a logic analyzer or waveform of pattern generator. You could also use it to gain board access through popular serial protocols such as SPI, I?C, I?S or RS-232.

It will also let you operate FPGAs and CPLDs (complex programmable logic devices) in serial or parallel configurations. Similarly, you could use it to exercise 8-bit and 16-bit microcontroller interfaces. It can also serve as a bus master and do slave emulation. Use it as a RAM or flash memory interface, too.

The GP-22050 BASE will work in systems operating from 1.2V to 3.3V using plug-in hardware modules. The unit also includes its own 16KB memory buffer, and can use derive operating power from the USB or use an external power supply. The latter is useful when higher current has to be sunk, or when some other I/O voltage (such as 5V TTL) comes into play.

High-speed USB is best
The GP-22050 connects to any PC running Windows 2000 or Windows XP. The PC can communicate using USB 1.x or USB 2.0, but to derive all you can from the GP-22050 it's recommended that a 480Mbps USB 2.0 connection be used.

The system comes with an 8PI Control Panel software suite. It includes drivers and upgradeable host control software, as well as all requisite documentation.

The 8PI Control Panel gives you options as you define input and output clocks, repetitive sequences, and trigger patterns. If you want to automate tasks or build custom applications, you can also use the TCL scripting environment, or the C, C++ DLL.

Application commands
In addition, the GP-22050's commands are application-dependent. What's more, the unit's hardware accelerator parameters are updated on-the-fly by the 8PI Control Panel software. That ensures the best level of performance for every application.

The GP-22050 BASE is a route to getting a high measure of observability of your system, and its performance is not restricted to debug through embedded microprocessor code execution. As a bi-directional device, it supports functional testing and debugging through multiple system access points at or near system speed. In the near future, Leens indicates Byte Paradigm will offer features such as analog interfaces, more memory, and higher bandwidth operation. Right now, when you consider the system's price tag of about $1,000, you may want to consider sprinkling a few GP-22050 BASE units around your lab.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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