ARM DesignStart case study demonstrates scheme’s ease-of-use

By TDF Editor |  No Comments  |  Posted: January 23, 2018
Topics/Categories: Digital/analog implementation, Blog - EDA, IP  |  Tags: , , , , , ,  | Organizations: ,

The ARM DesignStart program offers a fast, cost-effective way of getting projects to proof-of-concept stage and even to actual silicon. It is particularly useful for companies that have analog-and-mixed-signal design experience but are far less knowledgeable about digital and need to get a project underway quickly at minimal NRE.

But though the IP and supporting tools have been available free-of-charge for some time, a new White Paper now aims to demonstrate how easy DesignStart is to harness by way of a case study.

Inside ARM DesignStart

The core DesignStart offering comprises free access to ARM’s Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3 32-bit processors – respectively the company’s smallest and its most popular embedded CPUs – as well their system IP. Users can configure and modify subsystems as required and add their own IP.

Alongside this, a number of ARM’s EDA partners provide free access to appropriate tools. Among these is Mentor, which offers a 30-day evaluation license for its Tanner EDA mixed-signal flow, including S-Edit for schematic capture, T-Spice for analog simulation and ModelSim for digital behavioral simulation.

Figure 1. The Tanner evaluation flow for ARM DesignStart

Figure 1. The Tanner evaluation flow for ARM DesignStart

The DesignStart Eval package will take a proof-of-concept through to FPGA prototype free-of-charge. The DesignStart Pro package is free-of-charge up to the point where a company starts to ship silicon, after which a royalty applies.

Figure 2. The ARM DesignStart Eval and Pro packages compared.

Figure 2. The ARM DesignStart Eval and Pro packages compared.

Putting it together

The new jointly-authored ARM/Mentor White Paper describes the combined DesignStart/Tanner technologies in more detail and takes the reader through a proof-of-concept project.

The case study is based on a sensor that a design house wants to connect to an 8-bit analog-to-digital converter and then on to either an M-0 or an M-3.

Figure 3. The case study design connects a sensor to an ADC to a Cortex CPU.

Figure 3. The case study design connects a sensor to an ADC to a Cortex CPU.

The article breaks down the design and simulation flow into four core stages:

  1. Creating the interface.
  2. Plugging the peripheral into the MCU system.
  3. Writing the software.
  4. Simulating the design.

The idea is to show how extremely straightforward it is to work within ARM DesignStart, and it is therefore a valuable primer for companies looking at how to proceed towards a prototype for, say, the Internet of Things.

Fast SoC Proof-of-Concept with ARM DesignStart” is available for download now.

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