Arm has just announced an update to the DesignStart program , adding in Arm Cortex-M3 into the package. With this you can gain instant free access to evaluate, design and prototype custom SoCs based on Cortex-M0 or Cortex-M3 processors through DesignStart Eval. With DesignStart Pro you can design your commercial SoC with no upfront license cost, just a simple success-based royalty model.
One area that is often overlooked is the importance of prototyping designs, and with this blog I’d like to go into more detail about the importance of prototyping and how the Cortex-M Prototyping System (MPS2+) can enable you to easily get started evaluating and prototyping your own design.
DesignStart is much more than just processor IP. DesignStart Eval and DesignStart Pro include the processor IP, a reference subsystem (SSE-050), and access to free online community support. In addition, dedicated support, training, and services are also available from Arm and Arm partners.
DesignStart Eval comes ready to run on the Arm Cortex-M Prototyping System, MPS2+, making it simpler to quickly get started evaluating and prototyping your own design.
Figure 1: The Cortex-M Prototyping System
Once you’ve designed your new custom SoC, the next logical step is to prototype it. Prototyping is an essential stage in the SoC design process: it not only allows you to validate your design, but it also saves you from taping out with a broken design. In parallel with validation, you can use a prototype to develop software ahead of silicon arriving, saving you valuable time . Arm has the perfect solution - the Cortex-M Prototyping System!
The Cortex-M Prototyping System offers rapid FPGA prototyping for Cortex-M, including example designs and software support. Unlike other boards on the market, the FPGA platform is specifically tailored for Cortex-M processors, meaning that you can get up and running quickly, allowing time to be focused on differentiation. It supports Arm mbed OS, multiple debug connectors, including CMSIS-DAP, and has 16MB of zero wait-state memory, with support direct from Arm.
Figure 2: Cortex-M3 DesignStart implemented in MPS2+
The Cortex-M3 DesignStart package allows you to simulate a reference subsystem design (SSE-050) with your favourite simulator (Mentor® Questa®, Cadence® Incisive or Synopsys® VCS®). Then, add your IP to the design and build on the simulation environment, or edit the existing tests.
Arm has designed an example FPGA implementation using the DesignStart Eval package for the Cortex-M Prototyping System. Use this to take testing a step further and synthesize your design for this platform and re-run simulation tests on the FPGA target.
The Arm Cortex-M3 processor is supplied as a netlist and supports both debug and trace. The Cortex-M3 example subsystem design is small in size, leaving lots of room in the FPGA for expansion with your IP. The board has a wide range of peripherals, and you can add more with the addition of the Adapter for Arduino daughter board. If you can’t find the peripherals you need, you can design your own board, using the provided PCB files for the daughter board as an example. Check out the Arduino section on the Cortex-M Prototyping System page for the files to use an example.
Getting up and running using the platform is easy! You simply connect the power and USB cable to your PC, wait until the platform appears as a USB mass storage device, drag and drop your Design Start files, and press the reset button to load the new FPGA image. Once the FPGA is loaded, you can connect your debugger to one of the many debug connectors, or just use CMSIS-DAP to connect to the core. Check out this short video for more information on how to program the board and use Keil MDK debugger.
You can also use the existing Intel® Quartus® prime project file to add your own IP, synthesize it and build an FPGA image quickly to develop software for your IP or start prototyping your SoC idea. We have written a document describing this flow called the Cortex-M3 DesignStart FPGA User Guide which is part of the DesignStart download bundle.
If you need any more reason to use the Cortex-M Prototyping System, you’ll be pleased to hear that Arm has reduced the price of the Cortex-M prototyping system platform by 50% to $495 for all users for the next 12 months. It’s a fantastic deal when you consider the relatively large size of the FPGA (300K LE) and all the other features, which include mbed support. You can order the board from www.arm.com/mps product page or directly from Digikey
Get fast, simplified access to the Cortex-M3 CPU and CoreLink SDK-100
Learn more about the Cortex-M Prototyping System