"FPGAs: Quality through Model Based Design and Implementation"

Yves LaCerte1 and Yang Zhu2

1Rockwell Collins
General Dynamics


Using current practice on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) designs, the complete system becomes available at very late stages of the design.  Only at this time do the software, firmware, and hardware become integrated.  At this late stage, the system design cannot easily be modified if it fails to meet requirements.  Ideally, modern FPGA development should merge hardware-centric and software-centric design flows.  This would effectively eliminate the inherent boundary between hardware and software.  Today this discontinuity between the hardware and software designs results in high integration and testing costs and often results in a less efficient, lower-quality system.

This paper covers a design approach for FGPA systems using high-level models.  The Object Management Group’s (OMG’s) Model-Driven Architecture (MDA) defines an approach to modeling that separates the specification of system functionality from the specification of its implementation on a specific technology platform.  Thus, the same model specifying system functionality can be realized on multiple platforms.  These models are targeted to the FGPA by performing a series of transformations; where each transformation can include analyses, simulations and optimizations.  Instead of using basic simulation to validate the design, this approach enables better optimization and validation techniques that can be used at earlier design stages.  As with software model based development (MBD), the improved design quality of the FPGA system will significantly reduce integration and testing activities.

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