Embedded control: USB module speeds FPGA-based control development

Opal Kelly USB module and development software makes developing FPGA-based embedded controllers easier and faster.

By Control Engineering Staff December 5, 2008

Portland, OR — Opal Kelly’s XEM3050 integration module is based on a 4-million-gate Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA, and exploits USB 2.0’s high data-transfer rate for fasterilog simulator reduces to 13 minutes with Opal Kelly’s FrontPanel development system. Customers report three-to-six months savings in time to market.

Opal Kelly’s XEM3050 integration module

The company says its module is ideally suited for product prototyping and integration into OEM devices where a USB interface, flexible hardware solution, or PC software interface would be useful. The XEM3050 can easily be added to a new board design to provide turnkey USB integration with the convenience of Opal Kelly’s software programmer’s interface and existing USB drivers.In addition to the USB-communicating FPGA, the XEM3050 product includes memory, I/O, power supplies, and FrontPanel software with API. The company says its software interface is an easy-to-use, robust API for communication, configuration, and interfacing to your PC. The software handles all the interaction between your application software and the FPGA internals, dramatically reducing the time and effort required to interface to a design. XEM3010 compatible The XEM3050 is an expansion of the company’s XEM30XX family. The company says users of its XEM3010, released earlier, wanted more gates and more performance. The XEM3050 is designed to be fully compatible with the XEM3010 expansion connectors, providing an easy migration path to access the more powerful module.Hardware features include:• Based on 4,000,000-gate Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA;• High-speed USB 2.0;• On-board 64-MB SDRAM (two independent 32-MB SDRAMs);• 8-Mb SPI Serial Flash;• 512k X 18 Synchronous SRAM;• Two switching power supplies.Software features include:• FrontPanel software for easy interaction between software and FPGA design;• Multi-platform API for Microsoft Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X and Linux FedoraCore 7;• Programming in C, C++, C#, Ruby, Python, Java;• DLL support for 3rd party tools including Matlab and LabView.The company says the FrontPanel application development system, supplied as free software with all Opal Kelly modules, enables lightning-fast development and testing. It handles all interaction between “virtual controls” and the FPGA internals, andnnected, the components’ interface details are transparent– C.G. Masi , senior editor Control Engineering Register here .