Test and programming tools hasten SOC systems design

9th August 2018
Posted By : Mick Elliott
Test and programming tools hasten SOC systems design

Faster test and programming tools from ASSET InterTech will accelerate development and production cycles for designs based on Xilinx Zynq-7000 SoCs. These new tools, which join the ScanWorks platform for fast test and programming, take advantage of a target agent running out of a small amount of on-chip memory associated with one of the Arm Cortex cores in the Zynq-7000 SoC.

“Optimising the performance of DDR memories and programming flash memory can be particularly time consuming and troublesome for developers and production engineers,” said Larry Osborn, the ScanWorks PFx product manager for ASSET. “These processor-based fast tools (PFx) sidestep many of the difficulties. For example, developers can fine-tune the performance of DDR memories in about an hour with ScanWorks instead of potentially weeks without it.”

Included with each of the new tools are example board configuration files that support the most popular development platforms from Xilinx and third parties, including the Zedboard.

Long before the operating system or any application software is available, the ScanWorks PFTDDR tool can automate much of the functional testing of DDR memories connected to one or more of the Arm Cortex cores on a Zynq-7000 SoC.

Instead of using predefined DDR parameters which likely won’t achieve optimum system performance, the PFTDDR tool needs only a few parameters from the user to configure the DDR memory controller, set up the physical interface (PHY) to the memories and otherwise fine-tune the operation of the memory channels for optimum system performance.

Rather than about an hour with PFTDDR, manually optimising DDR performance could take a week or more.

In addition, any recalibration of DDR operations triggered by an engineering change order during development can be completed just as quickly.

Temporarily embedding a fast programming engine in the Zynq-7000’s on-chip RAM allows flash memory to be loaded with system and application software at speeds that will not slow down a production line.

Instead of a slower process, such as one based on boundary-scan technology embedded in chips, the ScanWorks PFP tool capitalises on the much faster speeds of the Zynq-7000’s Arm processor and, when available, an Ethernet port to program flash memory up to 10 times faster.

And should there be an update or change to the software already loaded into flash devices in inventory, those devices can be quickly reprogrammed with ScanWorks PFP before they are shipped.

Since it relies on a target agent in the on-chip memory in the Zynq-7000 SoC, the ScanWorks PFT tool can functionally test the devices and I/O buses on a printed circuit board at the speed of the Arm core.

At-speed testing enhances test coverage by detecting cross talk and other forms of injected noise that might typically escape other structural testing methods.

Since no operating system, boot loader or other type of system software is needed, PFT is an ideal solution for functionally testing prototype or production boards.

The PFx tools for ScanWorks are available now from ASSET InterTech and its distributors.

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