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Taking a Leap Forward to Prototype Billion Gate Designs | SemiWiki.com

Taking a Leap Forward to Prototype Billion Gate Designs | SemiWiki.com May 26, 2015

Pawan Fangaria  Published on 05-26-2015 10:00 AM

It's very common these days to hear about a billion gates SoC, but not without a huge design and verification effort and investment of resources. A complete verification of such an SoC needs several verification steps including software and hardware based methodologies that often are not sufficient to cover the whole SoC. In order to complete test coverage for the SoC, it is gradually built while employing different methods of verification. Clearly, the verification is tedious, time consuming, resource intensive and without full confidence. What if we have a complete prototyping system that has hardware as well as software that can partition the design, link with system-level simulation environment, and provide control, monitoring and debug facilities? 

In the recent past FPGA-based prototyping solutions have tried to ease the design and verification process in a cost-effective manner, but they lacked in several aspects including completeness, generality, capacity, scalability and availability. Recently a promising solution, "ProdigyTM Complete Prototyping Platform" was announced by S2C. This is a FPGA-based complete prototyping platform for an SoC design at any stage, for any design size, and accessed from multiple locations across the world. The realization of this platform has been further strengthened with the introduction of "ProdigyTM Cloud CubeTM" an enterprise-class, FPGA-based prototyping system.

The Cloud Cube 32 has a large capacity that can hold up to 32 FPGAs in a single chassis. The Cloud Cube can accommodate FPGAs from different vendors. With 32 Virtex-7 2000Ts, the total capacity can go up to 640 million ASIC gates. And the capacity with 32 Virtex-UltraScale 440s from Xilinx can go up to 1.4 billion ASIC gates. The FPGAs can be installed using different combinations of S2C’s Quad, Dual, or Single Prodigy Logic Modules and flexible interconnection modules or cables.

The prototyping platform is versatile enough to accommodate the designs at any stage and with any size. And this can be accessed by designers sitting at multiple locations across the world, thus making the platform available to designers outside the traditional closed door hardware prototyping or test lab. A group of 16 designers can simultaneously use different Prodigy Logic Modules in a Cloud Cube. Each Logic Module is remotely accessible through Ethernet. There are 16 independent PCIe fast data ports for data transfer between host and Cloud Cube. Different designs or multiple instances of the same design can run concurrently in a Cloud Cube.

There is superb controlling and monitoring mechanism provided in the system. The Prodigy Logic Modules can be automatically recognized and the interconnection between them automatically detected. The IP address, power, I/O voltages, currents and temperatures of the Logic Modules can be monitored round the clock. There can be 6 global clock sources to all Logic Modules with less than 200ps skew. There are 6 programmable clock sources (0.2 ~ 700MHz) and 3 internally generated clocks from any FPGA for clocking the design. Also, there are 3 global resets provided to all Logic Modules which can be triggered through push button or remotely through software. The system is equipped with self-tests that can quickly isolate design issues from hardware or connection issues.

The mechanical design of the Cloud Cube is ideal from all perspectives such as flexible cable connections, easy to handle in accessing or mounting Logic Modules and daughter cards (S2C provides a library of more than 80 Prodigy Prototype Ready daughter cards), maximum cooling, and so on.

For completeness of the prototyping environment, the Cloud Cube is supported by state-of-the-art tools such as Prodigy Player Pro for importing designs, partitioning them, and running P&R; Prodigy Debug Module (coming soon) for concurrently debugging multiple FPGAs in a single logic analyzer in the Cloud Cube; Prodigy ProtoBridge which links the system-level simulation environment to the FPGA-based prototyping platform; and Prodigy Neuro (coming soon) to manage multiple Cloud Cubes and/or Logic Modules that are used by global design teams through the web.

The SoC prototyping through Cloud Cube is a breakthrough approach that provides unprecedented capacity and scalability for billion gates designs managed over a private cloud and worked upon by design teams spread across the world.

This appears to be one of the major innovations being unveiled in the 52nd DAC. S2C will showcase Prodigy Cloud Cube working with their complete FPGA prototyping solution at their booth #3108. Don't forget to visit the booth.

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