Design Flow

Design Approaches

Our design approaches can be summarized in three classes, Full-custom, All-programmable, Full-custom with Integrated Circuits.

Our design approaches include a standard and consolidated approach based on microprogrammed commercial components, a standard and consolidated all-programmable FPGA design approach aimed at the implementation of fully reconfigurable processing units with custom hardware acceleration and Linux operating system on the same chip (hardware acceleration, software drivers and operating system tweaked and patched in-house) and, a more research-oriented approach aimed at Integrated Circuit (IC) design with particular emphasis on ultra-low power wireless systems.

The design flow is typically organized in three phases: i) constraint and requirements definition, ii) development and validation, iii) delivery and technical support.

Typical design flow
Typical EDL flow for the design of electronic embedded systems in cooperation with the customer PI.

Full-custom Design Approach

  • The design is based on commercial Hardware and Software components available on the market;
  • Less flexible, more optimized from an energy consumption viewpoint, medium speed prototyping.

The design and the implementation of full-custom embedded systems is achieved using the mainstream Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools. The full prototyping flow which comprises schematic entry and physical design is supported by components normalization and a shared ODBC. Having a structured components database enables speed-up for both external interfacing to commercial PCB suppliers and bill-of-material preparation.



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All-Programmable Design Approach

  • The design is mostly based on an FPGA running microprocessors, operating system and ad-hoc interfaces;
  • Very flexible solution, more power hungry, fast prototyping.

The all-programmable design flow requires a deep understanding of both hardware and software issues, because hardware is completely reprogrammable and a complex software stack (comprising the Linux operating system) runs directly on that. We define the hardware and we program what we have deifned.

Expertise areas Xilinx
Conceptual hardware/software interaction of the all-programmable approach.

All-programmable: An EDL Uniqueness

We have a comprehensive control of the FPGA design flow, from the microprogrammed hardware to the software-level. We write our own hardware accelerators, we interface them to on-chip FPGA ARM processor hard cores, we write OS drivers, and we consequently patch the Linux Kernel to include these new peripherals.

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Full-Custom w. Integrated Circuits

  • The design is mostly based on the design of a full-custom integrated circuit;
  • The most flexible and optimized solution, slow prototyping.

The Integrated Circuits design flow is more oriented to the implementation of lower TRL prototypes, and it is based on advanced analog/mixed and commercial RF EDA tools, acquired for institutional and non-profit use through the Europractice Consortium (see here). We have expertise in the design of analog and mixed-signal RF devices using an all-digital (and asynchronous logic) approach (see publications here).

We design Impulse-Radio Ultra-Wide Band (IR-UWB) CMOS integrated systems, read-out circuits, and analog-mixed signal integrated circuits in general. Regarding IR-UWB we design integrated systems with emphasis on non-coherent reception and all-digital design paradigm. Our design skills regard then Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) in general, for sensing and processing research applications. See more here.

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Design service requests can be submitted using the Electronic Design Laboratory Management System (EDLMS). For further information please see the dedicated page here.