Aldec, Inc., a long-time vendor of electronic design automation (EDA) tools targeted primarily at FPGA devices, has invaded the embedded systems software development space. The company has developed a hardware and software verification platform, called CoVer, for FPGA designs that incorporate soft-core microprocessors. CoVer supports Xilinx MicroBlaze and Altera Nios processors.
By combining Active-HDL, Aldec's hardware design entry and verification software, with the CoVer technology, hardware and software teams can work in parallel on the same configuration of the design. According to the company, debugging visibility is available to both teams throughout the entire design process.
Use of CoVer permits the software team to start development at the same time as the hardware team, and both teams can debug and test the same design configuration in parallel using the editors, compilers, debuggers, and simulators with which they are most comfortable.
The design methodology consists of placing the processor and its related software into CoVer hardware and expressing the peripherals in Active-HDL. The engineering teams can then verify the hardware and software designs concurrently.
During data exchange between CoVer hardware and the Active-HDL simulator, the processor can execute its program at speeds between 100 and 200KHz, according to Aldec. When not communicating with the peripherals in Active-HDL, the processor runs in emulation mode at a claimed 16MHz, providing signal visibility and debugging at any hierarchical level of the design.
CoVer provides direct event or transaction-based communication between the hardware and software design sections, allowing debugging and verification to take place. It mitigates reliance on "stub code" and reduces the need for additional hardware prototypes for the software team.
CoVer for the Xilinx MicroBlaze and Altera Nios processors is available now. U.S. pricing for Active-HDL combined with CoVer begins at $15,900 for a single license. The products are available for Windows platforms.