Physical prototyping systems are not new, but the packaging, components and price points vary greatly. Given the large investment in these systems, it’s necessary to develop and qualify the hardware and supporting components for integrity and reliability. The first part of this three-part series focuses on the hardware characterization of HAPS physical prototypes and how performing this step ensures hardware stability and reliability. The characterization of the hardware is a natural progression in the co-development of an integrated prototyping solution that requires the prototyping implementation solution to know detailed hardware information. Long before the first production HAPS system is built, Synopsys performs hardware characterization, which includes examples of functional specification and application tests with objectives, results, and analysis. Characterization includes the analysis of HapsTrak standard daughter boards, interconnect cables, system boards, power supply modules, and system cooling to provide guidance on how performance can be influenced. The second topic will look into the HAPS system test methodology and high-availability objectives to ensure that all HAPS systems are reliable and capable of maintaining high availability before they are shipped to customers. And finally, the last topic will dive into how the prototyping system supervisory function allows for the management of multiple systems, voltage/thermal monitoring, and detection of faults.
So, what goes on behind the scenes of the design, specification, and characterization of a modern prototyping system? The fact is, not all prototypes are built the same. Some are built and customized for a specific design or project, while others are built to cater to any design size, ranging from IP to large scale SoCs. Physical prototypes are no longer only a printed circuit board with commercial FPGAs, interfaces, and generic I/O connectors to provide connectivity to the real world external stimulus. They are designed with rigorous integrity and fidelity to support 24x7 uptime in server farms, with accessibility from anywhere in the world. Projects cannot afford to have a system go down and risk project schedules. System downtime and equipment returns are mitigated by hardware characterization of each and every HAPS system component, combined with extensive testing, live-system monitoring and fault detection utilities that prevent the system from being damaged by over/under voltage/temperature conditions.
The reliability objectives for the HAPS systems have been refined over many years and multiple generations. They include:
- minimizing system downtime
- reducing equipment returns due to damage
- minimizing the need to troubleshoot system assembly and prototyping utility IP
- consistent and predictable function and performance characteristics across individual system units