Prototyping remains a viable tool for some board and chip designs. Several vendors provide tools to perform fast, low-cost and accurate prototyping. Many board designers use simulation because they want to get as close to the final design as possible, boards have become more complex, chip and board performance have increased, desired turnaround times have declined, and it is difficult to construct and time wire-wrapped board prototypes. It has also become necessary to simulate chips such as application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), especially as they relate to the host board. Prototyping is useful when the designer does not control the specifications, when input/output supports varied peripherals, and designs are not easily simulated. Programmable logic devices and field-programmable gate arrays are useful for prototyping ASICs. Board prototyping products are also discussed.
Computer Design. April 1992, Vol. 31 Issue 4, p27, 3 p. graph
Prototype, Integrated Circuits, Methods, Guidelines, Time to Market, Debugging, and Comparison
Product development cycles are neither as short as they need to be nor as predictable, because of the enormous time and effort involved in performing comprehensive design verification and product integration tasks. One way to shorten development cycles is to ferret out design implementation bugs and specification errors as early in the design cycle as possible. The prototype phase should also be moved to the earliest possible point in the cycle, and the construction and debugging of prototypes should be made as productive and inexpensive as possible. Major prototyping alternatives include using the first real product to validate the design, building a prototype from standard parts prior to the real product and computer-aided prototyping, whereby the conversion of application-specific integrated circuits and custom integrated circuit designs are automated into an implementation using reprogrammable logic. The advantages and disadvantages of each method are discussed.
Computer Design. June 1991, Vol. 30 Issue 9, p33, 3 p. photograph
Multibus, I/O Boards/Cards, LAN Adapter, Upgrading, 32-Bit, Enhancements, Specifications, Trade and Professional Associations, Standard, and Multibus Manufacturers Group
The Multibus Manufacturers Group (MMG) is in the process of approving the live-insertion, or hot-swap, specification, the first in a series of Multibus II upgrades to reach the prototype stage. Other upgrades expected to reach the prototype stage by Sep 1991 include scaled-up bus speed, an increase in message-passing coprocessor (MPC) intelligence and an extension of the 21-slot backplane. MMG Technical Dir Roger Finger expects communications to be among the first applications for hot-swap capability, followed by such applications as network controllers, servers, gateways and routers, and other critical hardware. Development of live insertion on Multibus II began in 1988, but early versions did not preserve full compatibility with existing Multibus boards; the current approach requires no modification to the Multibus signals, according to Finger.
Computer Design. August 1993, Vol. 32 Issue 8, p115, 2 p. table
Emulators, Circuit Design, Validation, Logic Circuitry, New Technique, Methods, and Comparison
A new 'softwire' approach to hardware emulation of logic circuit designs offers better performance and lower costs than existing commercial hard-wired hardware emulation printed circuit boards (PCBs). Hardware simulation offers two advantages over software simulation: system-level design verification and near real-time speed. A hardware emulation PCB hosting field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) can simulate the performance of an ASIC design as well as be plugged in the place where the target circuit will be installed. Previous commercial hardware emulators, though, contain a fixed and excessive number of FPGAs whose wiring and partitioning software are generalized without concern for specific design targets. Consequently, FPGA gate utilization does not compare to the target design, emulation cost is high, and the generalized design and many interconnects cut performance. The soft-wire approach employs software for the custom design and optimization of the hardware emulation board for a particular logic circuit design. Functioning of the soft-wire approach and comparison to hard-ware emulators are discussed.
Computer Design. May 1, 1990, Vol. 29 Issue 9, p76, 1 p.
Prototype, Circuit Design, Gate Arrays, Application-Specific Integrated Circuit, Integrated Systems, Semiconductor Production Equipment, Quickturn Systems Inc. -- Product information, and Quickturn Systems RPM Emulation System (Circuit designer) -- Usage
Commercially available field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are the only viable technology for prototyping application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), but it is still a long process. FPGA prototyping enables users to access internal chip nodes, to see how well a custom or semi-custom design meets initial specifications and to make changes during debugging prior to implementation in silicon. A large ASIC may not fit into a single FPGA, requiring the design to be partitioned to fit into multiple FPGAs, with connections between chips identified, the design mapped from netlists to a suitable input language, the FPGAs placed and routed, any timing errors corrected, and the devices connected and programmed. Quickturn Systems offers an electronic prototyping tool, the RPM Emulation System, which automates the process of prototyping with FPGAs.
Computer Design. Dec 1985, Vol. 24 Issue 17, p34. chart
Prototype, Design, Computer-Aided Design, and Boards/Cards
Building a prototype board is the last stage in the design process. The design for a board can be sent to an independent shop or it can be fabricated in-house. A tape is usually produced by CAD systems. Wire wrapping is the oldest approach to board prototyping. New approaches are represented by a liquid-chemistry process or a milling process.
Computer Design. Nov 1992, Vol. 31 Issue 11, p119, 1 p. table
Product Introduction, Emulators, Application-Specific Integrated Circuit, Prototype, Quickturn Systems Inc. -- Product introduction, and Quickturn Systems Enterprise Emulation System (Terminal emulation board) -- Product introduction
Quickturn Systems' Enterprise Emulation System provides a multiplexed architecture that is separated into logic emulation modules and a reprogrammable backplane. Up to eleven modules, each with the capacity to emulate 30,000 gates, can be plugged into the Enterprise backplane. An Interconnect Module enables up to 22 systems to be clustered to emulate up to six million gates. The architecture is a full-custom, 168 x 168 crossbar switch. Logic is separated from interconnects to shorten routing delays and produce emulation speeds between 4 MHz and 8 MHz. New Memory Emulation Modules automatically map memory elements from a netlist to the emulation system. A 120,000-gate Enterprise Emulation System is currently available for $388,000; a 330,000-gate system costs $798,000.
Features an excerpt of a discussion on emulation and silicon prototyping between Toshiba America Electronic Components' Steve McMinn and Zycad's Bill Portelli. Intel's Pentium; Gates; Large macros; Debugging; Costs; Expectations.
Reports on the promotion of a product-development strategy with a Gate-Array Express program which eliminates NREs and offers fixed price for three prototypes. Advantages of rapid prototyping for innovative projects; Importance of improvisation to the iterative approach.
Describes the features of Cogent Computer Systems' Cogent Modular Architecture single board computer (SBC) Prototyping System. Ability to assemble an SBC with a choice of main central processing unit (CPU); Provision of a common environment for the processors; Development of a proprietary onboard interconnect/modular technology.
Discusses the Field Programmable System On Chip (FIPSOC), a device that addresses the problem in fast prototyping of mixed-signal system-level chips. FIPSOCs system architecture; Programmable cells in the analog circuitry; Serial port for debugging applications.
DIGITAL electronics equipment and DIGITAL signal processing
Reports on AT&T Microelectronics' introduction of the DSP1611 digital signal processor (DSP) for its DSP16xx DSP line. Incorporation of a number of power management modes; Design of DSP1611 for the wireless portable market; Other features of the DSP.
Computer Design. Dec 1988, Vol. 27 Issue 22, p112, 1 p. photograph
New Product, Emulators, Application-Specific Integrated Circuit, Quickturn Systems Inc. -- Product introduction, and Quickturn Systems Rapid Prototyping Machine (Computer)
Quickturn Systems' new in-circuit emulation (ICE) for ASICs is the RPM (Rapid Prototype Machine) Emulation System. The system allows an ASIC design to be written into reprogrammable ASICs and then put into a prototype system through an ICE cable. The prototype system can be run then at near real-time speeds to find out how the ASIC design runs in the target system over a longer period of time. It is possible to bring all meaningful signals out to I-O pins for monitoring by spreading the ASIC design across a number of reprogrammable gate arrays. The designs can then be changed into the RPM system in minutes via the reprogrammable devices and the automatic place-and-route software. The basic RPM Emulation Systems costs $125,000.
PROTOTYPES, COMPUTER-aided design, THERMAL analysis, and EQUIPMENT & supplies
Reports on the virtual prototyping tools which help to analyze and optimize complex designs for electrical and thermal performance, as well as the traditional personal computer (PC)-board computer-aided design (CAD) factors. Formalizing constraint capture; Checking for thermal problems; Multimedia design that have high-speed devices and others as cited by Dr. Phil Arana; Tools that change the cycle.
Focuses on the developments in synthesis tools written for application specific integrated circuits (ASIC). ASIC prototyping; ASIC design methods; Features of various synthesis tools; Efforts to match existing technologies.
GATE array circuits, EMBEDDED computer systems, and APPLICATION-specific integrated circuits
Reports on the growing use of gate arrays, embedded arrays and cell-based application specific integrated circuits (ASIC) for design projects. Fees for stockpiling; Migration issues; Blurring of boundaries; Gate-array prototyping; Amplification of drivers. INSETS: When does a gate array beat a standard-cell design in density..;Where GaAs gate arrays fit in the deep-submicron puzzle..