ARM Unveils Cortex-M Prototyping System Based on Altera Cyclone V FPGA

Before micro-controllers or processors are manufactured, simulation is performed in (usually) expensive boards based on FPGA chips from Altera or Xilinx, and once designers have found the system to work as expected, they can move to the next phase and work on the actual silicon. ARM has just released V2M-MPS2 Cortex-M Prototyping System for MCU / SoC / ASIC designers working on Cortex-M processors.

ARM_V2M-MPS2Key features:

  • Altera Cyclone V FPGA with ~150K LE
  • 4x 2MB ZBTRAM (32-bit each, with two of them forming a 64-bit memory). ZBT = Zero Bus Latency
  • 16MB PSRAM (16-bit)
  • Touch screen LCD module
  • Range of hardware interfaces – UART, VGA (4 bit per color), SPI, audio (I2S), Ethernet, LEDs, buttons
  • I/O expansion ports (GPIO)
  • FPGA images for Cortex-M processors
  • Example project for Cortex-M0 DesignStart (processor IP has to be licensed separately)
  • USB connection for downloading FPGA images and program image to micro SD card on board
  • Range of debug connectors for ARM or 3rd party development tools – JTAG, ARM parallel trace connector (MICTOR38), 20 pin Cortex debug connector, 10 pin Cortex debug connector, and ILA connector for FPGA debug.
  • Affordable – Under US$1000
Block Diagram
Block Diagram

A micro SD card is used to store FPGA and program images, as well as configuration text file.  When the board is powered up, an STM32 MCU automatically programs the images to the FPGA and memory automatically. If you connect the board with a computer via USB, you can download and/or modify th images files and configuration as if it was a mass storage device. The platform can emulate Cortex M0+, M0, M1, M3 and M4 cores.

The board includes an example project based on ARM Cortex-M0 DesignStart, which allows designers, students and researchers to try ARM Cortex M0 IP. The example project also comes with a subset of ARM’s Cortex-M System Design Kit (CMSDK).

Further information is available on ARM’s Cortex-M Prototyping System page, and if you are going to attend Embedded World 2014, in Nuremberg, Germany, you can learn more with a 30-minute presentation called “Cortex-M processor based system prototyping on FPGA” taking place on the 25th of February.

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