This is a preliminary design
fpgalafw is a proposal for a project to implement a universal logic analyser firmware for use as a firmware for commercial logic analysers that we wish to support, on FPGA development boards and for use as an in-circuit, or even in-FPGA debugging tool.
- Would simplify the implementation of libsigrok.
- Reduced repetition.
- Advanced triggering becomes hard when every manufacturer has a different trigger model. We can implement one to cover a variety of devices.
- Unlock previously unsupported device features. If a feature is added to one LA, it is added to all.
- Would enable support for more analysers such as the RockyLogic Ant8, the RockyLogic Ant18e, the ChronoVu LA8 etc.
- 100% open-source Verilog implementation (written from scratch or based off of other open-source projects).
- Portable Verilog implementation that works (as much as possible) in a generic way.
- Should work across all common FPGA/CPLD families from various vendors, including Xilinx, Altera, Microsemi/Actel, Lattice, etc.
- Should work for any suitable FPGA/CPLD based logic analyzer board (existing devices or future ones than can be built specifically for use with this project), and any suitable CPLD/FPGA eval boards.
- This means that the use of vendor-/family-specific constructs are discouraged in the "core" of the code. There might be optional per-device or per-vendor constructs that are not portable, but those should be moved outside the "core" so that as much functionality as possible works for any device.
There are various pre-existing open source firmware projects that can be drawn upon:
- 2004 - eebit
- 2006 - SUMP (written in VHDL)
- 2008 - openVeriFLA
- 2009 - miniLA
- 2009 - LeKernel's Logic Analyser
- 2010 - BitHound (Derived from SUMP but with Ethernet interface)
- 2011 - OpenBench Logic Sniffer (Derived from SUMP, ported to Verilog)
Some intitial work has been done, but the project is not really started yet. The current best branches are
- Joel Holdsworth's work on the demon core: https://github.com/jhol/butterflylogic
- Iztok Jeras's work on the demone core: https://github.com/jeras/butterflylogic
fpgalafw will not work as a monolithic single firmware. Rather it is a library/framework of components that can be assembled together depending on the capabilities of the device, and the mode of operation.
Project Folder Structure
Proposed project folder structure...
- /papilio ...
- # Scripts etc in here
- # Embedded sofware here
Each device class will be given a firmware package that the driver can load. This package will be ZIP-file containing multiple firmware .bit files for the different permutations of modes and options that can be selected on this device. It is undesirable to have a single universal hardware file for each device, because multiple features will compete for use the limited number of logic units and internal storage.
The firmware package will contain a text index file that indicates the capabilities of the device, its Bus ID, and a list of the firmware files available.
Firmware Build Environment
The firmware will be built using a GNU Make driven build environment, which will be compatible with Altera, Xilinx, Microsemi/Actel, Lattice tools, and FreeHDL etc.
We will implement a common command protocol, common among all the host interfaces. (With the possible exception of SUMP if we plan to support that).