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Home>>HERON modular systems>>Embedded & standalone systems

Embedded and Standalone systems

The functions offered by DSP systems mean that they are often targeted for embedded use. Systems that combine many millions of FPGA gates, GFLOPS of DSP power, I/Os of 100s of Mhz and real time communications at 400Mbytes/second sometimes have no need of a Host PC.

HERON and HEART systems are designed so that they can be used in embedded and stand alone systems as well as PC hosted systems. Even the PCI and cPCI module carriers can be used stand alone.

simple standalone system
A simple stand alone system can be made using the HERON-BASE1 and a single module. This is ideal for systems based around modules that have I/O and processing capabilities like the HERON-IO modules.



mutliple module standalone system  

A more complex system with multiple modules needs to be fitted to a module carrier that provides communications between the modules. This is provided by HEART on a carrier board like the HEPC9 or HECPCI9, so simply remove it from your PC, connect a power cable and it works!
All HEART module carriers have been designed with this use in mind - you simply leave the host bus connection (PCI in this case) unconnected.

A proper development environment can speed your development.

Being able to plug your system into a PC where you can run the software development tools on the same machine has some considerable advantages. There you have some tools that allow you to easily and quickly load your system with the program you just compiled, then you can achieve a fast iteration time for your development.
Tools like the Server/Loader for HERON systems, allow you to load and re-load both DSPs and FPGAs from one tool.
The faster the better, so using the PCI bus is a good idea. Using compression techniques to speed the download means HERON modules with a 6M gate FPGA can be loaded in 6 seconds!

Use data paths to the PC to analyse the system performance

While the system is fitted to your PC, you have a great way of analysing or displaying data from various points in your system. Utilising the PCI connection you can send data from any point in your processing chain and analyse it on your PC

signal samples

This simple PC program reads signal samples that the HERON system has written to FIFOs connected to the PCI interface. It graphically displays the signal waveform as well as the Frequency spectrum of that signal.

You can use techniques like this to speed up your system development and help you to measure the performance of that system.

But how do I disconnect my system from the PC environment

Ultimately your embedded system will need to initialise itself without being connected to a PC, so now is the time to program your PROMs. It is important that you do not need to change any of the code that you have just finished testing.

FLASH-PROM programming C6000 modules
This utility allows you to program exactly the .out file that you have been using during development into a FLASH PROM of a HERON-C6000 module. The program is not even re-compiled before programming - the same boot loading process that you have used all through the development is used to load the program from the PROM. This guarantees the behaviour will be identical when running from the PROM.
FPGA modules
For FPGA modules you use the Xilinx JTAG cable (like Parallel Cable III or IV) and the Xilinx iMpact tool to program the PROM on the module.
Xilinx iMpact tool

Programming HEART

Of course if you use the connections of HEART in your multi-module systems you must still program the connections after the system is reset. We provide options with our HeartConf tool to generate either C code for a C6000 or VHDL for an FPGA module that will configure HEART according to the connections in your network file.

HERON modules for embedded & standalone systems