IO Checker verifies hundreds of pins in between FPGA and PCB
When using large FPGAs on a PCB, making
sure that the FPGA pins are connected to the right PCB signals
is a cumbersome task. On the FPGA side, the pins are
assigned to the HDL signals that form the toplevel of the
logic implemented on the FPGA. On the PCB side, the pins
have to be connected to the proper net that will connect
it to other components on the PCB. Because implementation
of FPGA and PCB is often done in parallel, the signal
names used are not always identical. To make things even
worse, it is often necessary to perform pin swaps to
prevent PCB routing problems. These pin swaps have to be
made both on the FPGA and the PCB. As this is almost
always manual work, and current devices have over 1500
pins, a mistake is easily made.
IO Checker offers an easy way to verify the PCB data
with the FPGA data. Instead of comparing two lists with
hundreds of pins manually, you can load the FPGA pin list
file and the PCB netlist file in IO Checker. IO Checker
will immediately recognize exact signal name matches
and it will also use some fuzzy rules to handle common
differences in FPGA and PCB signal names. In case
different names were used on FPGA and PCB, IO Checker
allows you to define regular expressions to match these
names. Using regular expressions allows you to match
groups of signals instead of having to check each signal
separately. Once you have defined your rules and changes
have been made on either the FPGA or the PCB side, you can
easily reload the FPGA pin list and/or the PCB netlist and
IO Checker will recheck all pins so you can immediately
see if all problems were fixed and if no new problems were
IO Checker uses rules (based on regular
expressions) to match the signals names in both the FPGA
and PCB design environment. It allows the tool to validate
groups of matches, although individual signals can still
differ. The rules can be generated automatically and then be
fine-tuned by the designer. The automated approach will
often match 80% to 90% of all device pins. The
flexibility of IO Checker allows it to be used in any
design flow and does not require any design methodology.
The rules generator in combination with the sorted problem
view allows engineers to validate a 1000+ pins device in
half an hour.
As described earlier, the FPGA and PCB
names will often differ from each other. Other differences
can be introduced by the way the tools handle bus indices
like '(', '[' or '<', and bus signals like (bus) and
expanded signals (bus_2). IO Checker remaps all bus
indicators ('('and '[') to a single indicator ('<') and
the fuzzy name comparator ignores underscores in names.
Alternate device support
A secondary device (within the same family) can be
specified as an alternate (migration) device. The device view will
show both pin types when they differ on both devices. If no FPGA
pin file is present, IO Checker will verify that the connected
PCB signal is correct for both devices.
Rule based matching
Rules can be created automatically by the
Rule Generator or manually by the user. These rules allow
non-matching names to match. The mapping rules allow the
use of regular expression to quickly match related names.
Default rules can be defined in the user
settings so they can be easily reused for other projects.
Another mistake sometimes made when
placing an FPGA on a PCB is related to the power pins.
The FPGA IO banks can require a different VCC voltage
than the FPGA core voltage and these banks can be
programmed for different IO standards requiring a
different voltage supply. IO Checker extracts the
required power information from the FPGA vendor pin list
file and compares them with the voltage information from
the PCB netlist. This helps prevent mistakes that can
result in fried ICs!.
Intelligent power extraction from decoupled power supplies
IO Checker can now recognize secondary
power nets which feed (analog) power pins of an FPGA and
are connected through a decoupling circuit (inductor and
capacitors to GND) to the main power supplies on the PCB.
A warning message is generated when decoupled power nets
indicate different voltage strength.
Verification has improved in several areas. When a pin is marked as a power or ground pin (in the pin file) IO Checker will only verify the pin is connected to the right voltage and ignore the net name. If an alternate device is specified (without pin file) the pin verified for the combined behavior. Extra checks for power and ground have been added when only a PCB netlist is present.
Required voltages for power pins are shown between <> to distinguish them from IO Standards. The same is done for signal names in the pin file column when they relate to a pin signal name instead of specific user IO signal. An icon depicting its nature is shown for PCB nets that fall into one of the predefined categories (single/multi pullup, single/multi pulldown, decoupling, dangling, unconnected).
The blocking search widgets have been replaced with a non-blocking version making it easier to search for pins or signals.
Extended signal name extraction
Additional signal information is shown in
the PCB column for nets that are decoupled with a single
The rule matching dialog has been extended with a 'Generate' button, making the 'New rules' dialog obsolete. An extra column is added showing an icon when the rule is new. Undo/Redo buttons allow you to fix any errors you made in the rules.
TCL command-line interface
The TCL interface has been extended with functions to extract information about pins from both the IO Checker database and the FPGA pin file. These functions make it possible to extend and customize the IO Checker functionality.
Automatic PCB netlist format recognition
IO Checker can automatically determine
the format of the netlist specified based on the file
extension and known keywords that are found in the file.
Company corporate data directory and settings
Company global settings like used FPGA
vendor, PCB vendor and default matching rules can be
defined and stored on a directory that each designer can
use to retrieve the standard settings.
Tooltips on PCB signal names
A tooltip with all connected pins of the
associated net will be shown when the tooltip is
activated in the PCB signal column.
User accepted power mismatches
The designer can manually accept a power
mismatch and mark as correct. The error flag will be
replaced by a user accepted flag. The user accepted flag
will be removed when the design data is re-importing with
different power values.
The HTML documentation function allows you
to export the IO Checker signal view into an HTML
- Igloo, Igloo+, Iglooe
- Cyclone II
- Cyclone III
- Cyclone III LS
- Cyclone Iv
- Cyclone IVE
- Cyclone V
- Stratix (GX)
- Stratix II (GX)
- Stratix III
- Stratix IV
- Stratix V
- Arria GX
- Arria II GX
- Arria 5
- Spartan-3, 3A, 3AN, 3A-DSP, 3E, 6
- Virtex-II Pro
- Virtex-4, 4QV
- Virtex-5, 5Q
- More Companies and Devices are being added regularly, please contact us if you need a specific device supported
Schematic capture / PCB Systems
- Altium (EDIF)
- Cadence Allegro / Orcad Packager netlist
- Cadence Allegro (Orcad) PCB (board file)
- Cadence Telesis netlist
- DxDesigner generic netlist
- DxDesigner packager cross ref. netlist
- Mentor DxDesigner 'Quick Connection View' (.qcv)
- PADS ascii database
- Veribest (EDIF)
- Windows XP Vista 7/8
- Linux (should work with any recent distribution). Tested with RHEL 5 and Suse 10.1
- Floating time-based license only
Click here to download EASE, HDL Companion, or IO Checker
Would you like a quick walk-through of IO
Checker? Please contact our sales department by phone
540-953-3390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.