Electronic system design especially in the field of designing complex system on chip (SoC) architectures suffers more and more from simulation and verification time due to the raise of complexity in the last decades. To solve the problem of high verification time, rapid prototyping techniques becoming more and more popular to assists/support conventional verification techniques. Besides the reduction of verification time by using rapid prototyping techniques another advantage is the system level integration of the design in an early stage of the design period. In this way the correctness of a design can be verified in a real life scenario in a very early stage of the overall design process.
Field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) are well suited for building prototyping systems at all complexity levels. One major problem of using high complexity FPGAs for rapid prototyping systems is the need of a dedicated PCB development to integrate all the needed interfaces with the used FPGA.
To overcome the problem of system variability in respect to the interfaces that can be used and the ongoing FPGA development it is highly desired to have a modular system architecture, which can be used like a construction kit by combining different building blocks. Based on these requirements we’ve build a rapid prototyping system, which is highly modular in terms of interfaces, FPGAs and complexity.
The Hardware Evaluation Platform HEP-II has been designed to cover a wide range of possible system configurations and interface requirements, which provides commonly used and needed interfaces including standard video in/out interfaces and other commonly used ports.
The configuration variability of the base board is achieved by using industry standard high density HSMC connectors in a special inter connection topology. The system provides four single HMSC modules slots or can be used in a two / four slot configuration. The slots can be used for HSMC compliant interface of FPGA cards e.g. the Altera DE3 board. Vertical stacking of FPGA and interface boards allows building extremely complex systems.
Besides the module slots the prototyping system features a complete Intel XScale System running embedded Linux with the ability to interface directly to the HMSC slots.