NEW HARDWARE/SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT BOARD SPEEDS DESIGN AND VERIFICATION OF SYSTEM-ON-CHIP ASICS.
A significant challenge to integrating third-party intellectual property cores, especially powerful embedded processors, is the lack of a prototyping vehicle that can be used to test the hardware design and develop software. Lexra, a leading developer of processor cores for embedded applications, has addressed this head on by introducing its new LX-PB20K Hardware/Software Development Board.
The board, co-developed by AMIRIX Systems Inc. and Lexra, provides a design team a board with a socket for a test chip and two Altera PLDs to contain the logic of the system design. "Not only can the design team run test vectors through the hardware, but software developers can execute their program code on hardware built from the same RTL as the final system," says Jonah Probell, design engineer. "Thus, bugs in the logic and in the embedded software may be discovered much sooner in the design cycle."
The board's two PLD sockets have Altera's 652 pin BGA pin-out to hold high-capacity APEX programmable logic devices (PLDs) from Altera Inc. Depending on gate capacity, one or more Lexra processor cores can run in the PLDs along with the designer's custom logic. This allows the designer to configure the CPU core as well as debug his custom logic, early in the design cycle. In this configuration, the test chip socket will typically be unused.
If the designer wants to run his system at the full system speed, he can use an appropriately packaged ASIC test chip inserted in the board's test chip socket. This device can contain one or more Lexra processors configured with custom engine interface, coprocessor interface, L-Bus (Lexra bus) devices and custom logic. This allows the system designer to run at high clock speeds of up to 250 MHz
The board also contains a standard 32-pin DIP EPROM and a 168-pin SDRAM DIMM. Standard I/Os are also available. They include a PCI connector, two RS-232 serial connectors, and programmable LEDs. The board has four clock signals. It includes two socketed clock oscillators, a PCI bus clock, and a BNC connector for an external clock source. The test chip may have an internally generated clock.
No prototyping board would be complete without a full complement of debugging support, and the LX-PB20K is no exception. Two EJTAG connectors on board allow on-chip debug and real-time trace capabilities using the MAJICplus probe and the EDB source level debugger, both from Lexra partner Embedded Performance Inc. (EPI). Alternatively, the board also supports on-chip debug using the MULTI source level debugger from Lexra partner Green Hills Software, with a Macraigor probe.
Several target resident debug kernels can be run on the Hardware/Software Development Board including RSS from EPI and PMON from Lexra. The board can also run industry-standard operating systems including VxWorks from Wind River Systems, Nucleus from Accelerated Technology, and Threadx from ExpressLogic, all three Lexra partners. In addition, Lexra has partnered with AMIRIX to provide embedded Linux for the LX-PB20K board.
The LX-PB20K sells for $7500 without PLDs and is available within 30 days of order. Lexra, Inc. is a microprocessor developer specializing in 32-bit RISC and DSP cores for the embedded market. In less than four years, Lexra has established itself as an innovator in embedded microprocessor technology and intellectual property (IP) licensing business model, with proven track record for customer success. During this short period, Lexra has delivered seven processors to 30 licensees in six different countries. Among the customers are top three network communication companies as well as top ten semiconductor companies.