Archive for the ‘Xilinx’ Category

Building U-Boot PicoZed

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Recently I needed to build U-Boot for the Picozed.  Mainly because we needed to get our control platform running on another Picozed variant but also to de-risk part of our process. For those of you that don’t know the control platform (called the Fyfe) is made from our IP blocks is in the Zynq fabric with Linux running on the Zynq A9 cores as the software host.  This gives us dedicated FPGA speed real time control in the fabric and all the good things that Linux provides such as networking, scripting , python and the like.  We use a PicoZed as the System on Module (SoM) for our control platform.  So this is the first post in the article series Building U-Boot Picozed.

Building U-Boot PicoZed

U-Boot is the ubiquitous boot loader for booting Linux.  It can be used to boot other systems as well but I just needed to create a U-Boot that would get me up and running on the Picozed.  Building U-Boot had never been my thing but it was decided that I should build and learn it for myself.

U-Boot or more correctly Das U-Boot is supported and maintained by the people at  https://www.denx.de/wiki/U-Boot.

Submarines

As an aside I think that the name Das U-Boot is a reference to the 1981 movie Das Boot about a U boat submarine.  This is a great movie with superb German dialog version.  Check it out.  Information on the movie is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Das_Boot.  The German language version is the better version.

Help!

So as I have been doing this whole software development thing for a while and as always the first thing I did was ask an expert.  It is always good to ask an expert.  It actually doesn’t matter which expert as the experts generally all know each other.

I asked Adam Taylor from Aduivo Engineering and of Microzed chronicle fame.  He helps with tricky FPGA issues and also helps with our IP blocks and test-benches.  Adam, it turns out, is not a U-Boot guy but recommended a number of people.  He also put a LinkedIn post out for me.  And I got recommended through Adam T. to Matteo Vit.  Matteo is extremely helpful.

FSBL

So I need to fill in some of the story as to how I was constrained.  We have this one client who likes Vivado 2016.2 and so we have residual development and support requirements that are in Vivado 2016.2.  Vivado moves on regularly and it generally gets better.  At the moment on my Linux laptop I have Vivado 2016.2, 2016.4, 2017.1 and 2017.2 all installed and all with projects.  I also have SDK for all these Vivado varients also.  I run straight Ubuntu 16.04 and all the Vivado versions go.

The risks of updating to new versions or providing support with historic Vivado versions are really beyond what I want to get into here.  I hope to write another blog series about that later.

Before we built U-Boot we needed the FSBL.  Before I did this I asked about whether this was the best way to go forward.

SPL or not?

I also consulted with Charles M. who is a very good Linux and U-Boot guy, a really good consultant on flash memory usage and also he is great company.  He proposed that I take the SPL route to U-Boot.  The SPL approach is where the processor configuration is done by including the hardware specific initialization code (ps7_init_gpl) into the U-Boot build.  This SPL is not officially supported by Xilinx for the Zynq U-Boot release.  The Xilinx description of the process is here http://www.wiki.xilinx.com/U-Boot+Secondary+Program+Loader.  I did not pursue this SPL but I plan to go through this process in the future for completeness.

Which U-Boot version?

It’s clear when you look at it that the U-Boot version and the Linux version need not be the same.  This was a really big realization for me.  And an important realization for those building Linux systems.

U-Boot is a boot-loader and it moves the binaries of the kernel, ramdisk and device tree from storage media to memory.  That is all it does.  U-Boot isn’t actually a Linux specific program.

U-Boot for PicoZed – should just work right?

So some of you will be wondering why I am writing this as the PicoZed must have an off the shelf from the git repo U-Boot version that just goes?  I found that the answer to this is no.  The U-Boot build when I selected PicoZed for the make option from the repo I pulled from the xilinx git did not work on a PicoZed.  I also found that the defconfig used for the picozed (don’t worry if you don’t know what that is I’ll get to that in a follow up blog) was not correctly setup to support the flash memory on the PicoZed.

Well this was a surprise.

So as a relative new U-Boot software user I decided that I would build U-Boot for the PicoZed myself and share the process with you.  I take the FSBL approach so what I do is compatible with the Xilinx supported U-Boot.  And I got it working.  Over the next couple of months I will show you what I have learned in building U-Boot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELMG Digital Power INC In California

Monday, November 14th, 2016

ELMG Digital Power Inc has long held the ambition of being the best digital controlled power electronics design company in the world.

And, to that end, we are pleased to announce that we are extending our operations to include a development and support site in Camarillo, California.

ELMG Digital Power has established this base in Camarillo, California to allow us to be well-positioned to support the increasing growth of digital power electronics control in California and across the country.  The team of engineering staff will be available to meet the needs of nationwide clients, who will also have access to all the available expertise and resources of ELMG Digital Power’s global team.

ELMG Digital Pwoer Control Platform Technology enables real time logging and visualization of waveforms from around the world or across the lab via the ethernet.

ELMG Digital Power Control Platform Technology enables real time logging and visualization of waveforms from around the world or across the lab via the ethernet.

ELMG Digital Power is committed to the provision of support, technology, know-how and products that will enable our clients to be respected authorities and do great thing in the area of digital power control.

Our clients can certainly have confidence in ELMG Digital Power’s expertise and experience as for the past twenty five years we have been working on digitally controlled power converters in motor drives, industrial switch mode power supplies, reactive power compensation, medium voltage system, power quality systems, motor starters, appliances and telecom switch-mode power supplies. ELMG Digital Power places a high value on innovation, safety and sustainability. Quality is one of our cornerstones, and even as we seek to streamline, update and improve, maintaining quality and reliability remains paramount.

ELMG Digital Power’s Eco System Approach of design, development, know-how sharing through training and partnerships is our principal methodology.  We are proud of our successful Eco System of solutions, training, support and long term partnership.

Digital Controller logging implementation

Digital Controller logging implementation

Some of the companies involved in the control and measurement of electric power we have worked closely with include (Click for testimonial or details)

Dr. Hamish Laird at the ELMG Camarillo Office

Dr. Hamish Laird teaching a class at the ELMG Camarillo Office

As well as providing world-leading FPGA based digital power electronics controller technology, ELMG Digital Power have developed products used in a variety of applications all around the world. These include

  • power transmission,
  • off-shore wind turbine DC Connection systems,
  • grid scale energy storage,
  • internal combustion engine management systems,
  • traction systems for ships,
  • communication links for power electronics
  • solar inverters
  • high voltage motor starters and
  • high voltage UPS to name just a few.

More detail on ELMG product development and systems, our key know-how and technologies can be found on our website here 

zynq webinar presentation slides

ELMG Digital Power is a Xilinx Alliance Program member providing world leading FPGA based digital power control platforms

We are excited and pleased about this new venture and look forward to discussing and supporting your digital power electronics design and technology needs from our new location at:
601E Daily Drive, Suite 112,
Camarillo, CA 93010
Phone: +1 805 764 2027
For more information contact ELMG Digital Power INC in California:

Louise Jennings

enquiries@elmgdigitalpower.com

Zynq Webinar Presentation Slides

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Dr. Tim King presented the Digital Power Control on a Zynq webinar.

In the presentation Dr. King detailed how the programmable logic fabric of the Zynq was fantastic for low latency and high precision digital power control.

zynq webinar presentation slides

What to do with the ARM A9 Cores?

He also outlined how to make use of the ARM A9 cores

The Zynq webinar presentation slides

The slides are available here


Download presentation




 

Free Webinar High Performance Digital Control on Zynq

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

If you have just sat down at your desk with a coffee, then put that aside for a minute and grab your diary.

Review your schedule for Tuesday 12th July 2016 and consider this stellar opportunity: on that day ELMG Digital Power will be hosting a FREE webinar on Digital Power using Xilinx Zynq SoC.

That’s right, from the comfort of your own desk you can join ELMG Digital Power (Members of the Xilinx Alliance Program) for their Zynq Digital Power Webinar and expand your knowledge and expertise by discovering:

* What is important in digital power, including numeric precision and latency
* How to design a compensator in the digital domain
* Why you would use a FPGA for digital power and why the Zynq SoC in particular
* Key issues in digital controllers in programmable logic, such as the serial-parallel trade-off, fixed or floating point,      choosing sample rates and what precision to use
* The building blocks for digital control and ELMG’s licensable IP cores
* IIR digital filter design (a case study) along with understanding the delta operator
* Using the ARM cores in the Zynq to your full advantage.

This webinar will be hosted and presented by Dr. Tim King, ELMG Digital Power’s Principal FPGA Engineer. Tim has considerable experience the design and implementation of varied digital control systems and IP for power electronics on FPGA platforms.

The webinar, which includes a short Q&A session, will be held on Tuesday 12th July and is available globally. Just choose a time that best suits you from these three options:

1. July 12th 2016 – commencing at 4pm in Christchurch NZ. (This will be 2pm Sydney, 1pm Tokyo, and 9:30am Delhi)





Register for Asia-Pacific




 

2. July 12th 2016 – commencing at 9am London (10am Berlin)





Register for Europe




 

3. July 12th 2016 – commencing at 1pm San Francisco (3pm Houston, 4pm New York)





Register for USA



Spaces are limited.  

See you at the webinar

 

 

Control Scope Integrated into Digital Power Controller

Friday, July 8th, 2016

How can I look at my digital signals in my power controller?

One of the big issues when working on digital control of power electronics is being able to look at the digital signals inside your controller.  In order to see what is going on inside the control the digital signals need to be brought out so you can look at them.

When a DAC isn’t good enough.

One way to do this is with a digital to analog converter (DAC) where the digital stream is sent out as an analogue signal.  These DAC channels are really useful and should be on every digital power electronics controller.  However processing power usually limits the logging or data streaming to a DAC to a low number of channels.  Each channel requires a scope channel of its own to do measurement.  Any measurement is limited in length to the scope’s memory and the scopes sample rate.

scope-capture

ELMG Digital Power ControlScope

Data Collection in the Controller and Detecting Events

There is also the issue that collecting enough data to allow event detection such as;

  • single sample errors
  • clipping
  • overflow
  • underflow or precision loss and
  • bursty instability due to precision loss

can be a very difficult large load on the control processor and memory if the data logging rate is very high or if the rate of the problem is very low.

Control Scope Integrated into Digital Power Controller

To solve this problem we put the data collection and logging into the controller but without loading the controller.

Using the Xlinx Zynq system on a chip (SoC) we use the flexibility of running Linux on one of the two ARM 9 cores to provide the high speed gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

Dlog Implementation

Dlog Implementation

We also use the Linux for secure remote access if required.

Using ELMG Power Core IP blocks and know how we create firmware in the FPGA fabric of the Zynq.  This connects to the Linux kernel and then the Linux user space.  Data can be logged at full sample rates into SD cards or MMX memory and simultaneously out via the Gigabit Ethernet to the internet.

To be very clear no Linux code is included in the power electronics control function which is all implemented in the FPGA fabric on the Zynq.

Put a scope on the other end of the Ethernet

The video shows the ELMG ControlScope application connected to the ELMG Digital Power Zynq data collection system (named Dlog).

This system implements a fully functional oscilloscope that allows the internal operation of the digital control to be shown and logged.

With gigabit Ethernet logging rates of 25 M bytes per second are possible using Dlog.

This means that logging of your power converter performance and waveforms, scope function or debugging can be done over the internet.

To evaluate the Dlog and the ControlScope than click below.  


Request Dlog and ControlScope Information



Free Webinar on Digital Power using Zynq

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

On Tuesday 12thJuly, we would like to offer you the opportunity to learn about Digital Power using Xilinx Zynq SoC.

Join ELMG Digital Power (Members of the Xilinx Alliance Program) for their Free Zynq Digital Power Webinar and expand your knowledge and expertise by discovering:

  • What is important in digital power, including numeric precision and latency
  • How to design a compensator in the digital domain
  • Why you would use a FPGA for digital power and why the Zynq SoC in particular
  • Key issues in digital controllers in programmable logic, such as the serial-parallel trade-off, fixed or floating point, choosing sample rates and what precision to use
  • The building blocks for digital control and ELMG’s licensable IP cores
  • IIR digital filter design (a case study) along with understanding the delta operator
  • Using the ARM cores in the Zynq to your full advantage.
Free webinar on digital power using zynq

Xilinx Zynq SoC is a great processor for digital power electronics control.

Dr. Tim King presents

The free webinar on digital power using Zynq will be hosted and presented by Dr. Tim King, ELMG Digital Power’s Principal FPGA Engineer. Tim has considerable experience the design and implementation of varied digital control systems and IP for power electronics on FPGA platforms.

This exciting opportunity is free and includes a short Q&A session with Dr. Tim King.

Dr Tim King - Free Webinar on Digital Power using Zynq

Dr Tim King

When and where

The webinar will be held on 12th July and is available globally in your time zone. Just choose a time that best suits you from these three options:

Spaces are limited.

July 12th 2016 – commencing at 9am London, England. 1000 (10am) Berlin Germany.


Register for Europe

 

July 12th 2016 – commencing at 1pm San Francisco, 3pm Houston, 4pm New York.




Register for USA

 

July 12th 2016 – commencing at 4pm in Christchurch New Zealand, 2pm Sydney Australia, 1pm Tokyo Japan, and 9:30am New Delhi, India





Register for Asia-Pacific




If you cannot attend at the scheduled time then register now and watch the recording later.

Spaces are limited.