Wireless Prototyping and Production Development Essentials

How teams work together to iterate quickly, increase efficiency with proven design IP, and automate RTL code and verification model creation

An 8-minute read
Section 1

Top-Down Collaboration

Bring together multiple skill sets early in the process

With the growth of wireless standards and infrastructure, new systems and hardware must be developed under a rapid timeline. Traditional workflows that divide responsibilities and rely on specification documents prevent the type of multidiscipline collaboration needed to deliver novel products on schedule.

Click the numbers on the image below to see how engineering teams can collaborate.

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A Multidomain Design Platform

Bring together system, algorithm, and domain-specific engineers to collaborate in a visual environment to explore and develop the system, algorithms, and architecture together. You can model your antenna, receiver, amplifiers, ADC/DAC, modulation/demodulation, error correction, and signal processing, along with core math and logic.

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System-Level Simulation for Validation and Verification

Simulate the entire system from antenna to bits to optimize system throughput and to detect and eliminate costly issues early. The higher level of abstraction means that there are fewer details to simulate, which results in faster run time and easier debugging. Manage tests and track functional coverage to ensure robust verification before prototyping and production development.

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The Ability to Refine the Implementation Architecture

This top-down approach enables communications, DSP, and hardware engineers to continuously collaborate to adapt algorithms to work on a stream of bits, trade off parallel processing versus resource usage, manage the timing and latency of data flow, and balance numerical accuracy versus the efficiency of fixed-point quantization. They can simulate each refinement step using the same stimulus as algorithm design, while comparing results and performance against the algorithm.

A Multidomain Design Platform

 

Bring together system, algorithm, and domain-specific engineers to collaborate in a visual environment to explore and develop the system, algorithms, and architecture together. You can model your antenna, receiver, amplifiers, ADC/DAC, modulation/demodulation, error correction, and signal processing, along with core math and logic.

 

 

System-Level Simulation for Validation and Verification

 

Simulate the entire system from antenna to bits to optimize system throughput and to detect and eliminate costly issues early. The higher level of abstraction means that there are fewer details to simulate, which results in faster run time and easier debugging. Manage tests and track functional coverage to ensure robust verification before prototyping and production development.

 

 

The Ability to Refine the Implementation Architecture

 

This top-down approach enables communications, DSP, and hardware engineers to continuously collaborate to adapt algorithms to work on a stream of bits, trade off parallel processing versus resource usage, manage the timing and latency of data flow, and balance numerical accuracy versus the efficiency of fixed-point quantization. They can simulate each refinement step using the same stimulus as algorithm design, while comparing results and performance against the algorithm.


Working with MathWorks has enabled 
Nokia
 to adopt Model-Based Design and use models as a common language for communication and automation.

Key Takeaways

  • Enable collaboration between multiple domain experts
  • Simulate system-level behavior to detect and eliminate costly issues early
  • Improve quality through broader architecture exploration

Adopting Model-Based Design for FPGA, ASIC, and SoC Development

Watch video (15:25)
Section 2

FPGA Prototyping Without VHDL/Verilog Expertise

Target and debug FPGA prototype hardware directly from MATLAB and Simulink

Prototyping wireless communications algorithms on FPGA or software-defined radio (SDR) hardware platforms delivers early insight to performance in realistic operating conditions, and often serves as a key demonstration checkpoint as the project progresses toward production development. Where traditional prototyping workflows place a heavy burden on scarce hardware design engineers, using MATLAB® and Simulink® enables communications and DSP engineers to be more self-sufficient in creating and debugging FPGA prototypes. This approach results in faster iterations and getting to a working prototype with less time and effort.

Incremental Prototype

After modeling and simulating your system-level algorithms, you can incrementally add live prototype hardware elements. Start by connecting MATLAB and Simulink to the prototype transceiver to simulate with live over-the-air input/output. Even when deploying to the prototype device, you can stay connected to MATLAB and Simulink for analysis and debug before full field testing. You can get started quickly using the 
Communications Toolbox™ Support Package for Xilinx® Zynq®-Based Radio
 or build this capability yourself for your custom board. 

Guided and Automated Hardware Targeting

While there are no shortcuts to targeting FPGA hardware, guidance and automation make it more attainable. Fixed-Point Designer™ automates the quantization process to help you balance efficiency versus accuracy. The HDL Coder workflow advisor manages the process from helping prepare your design for targeting all the way through FPGA implementation.

Connected Analysis and Debug

Prototyping introduces unanticipated real-world effects such as interference, which can cause the design to malfunction or perform more poorly than expected. You can use MATLAB and Simulink to analyze and debug these issues with the device connected directly or by capturing the over-the-air waveforms to use in simulation.

 

“Implementing this project took 9 months with four people. In our estimation we saved about 50–70% of the time versus starting without MATLAB involvement and hand-writing Verilog or VHDL code.” – Mikhail Galeev, 
Intel

Key Takeaways

  • Iterate and get to a working prototype more quickly
  • Increase your capability to prototype on digital hardware
  • Analyze and debug from within MATLAB and Simulink
Try HDL Coder for your next project prototyping on FPGA-based development kits.
Contact us
Section 3

Hardware-Proven Design IP

Speed your project schedule by using configurable hardware implementations of standards-based algorithms

Wireless communications rely heavily upon standard signal protocols, modulation/demodulation schemes, and error correction coding to ensure system and device interoperability. In most cases, this standard functionality does not differentiate your application, but you still need to integrate it into your FPGA or ASIC. Using proven intellectual property (IP) saves your engineers' time and effort so they can focus on developing and implementing your unique functionality.

  • 1. Reference Applications
  • 2. IP Blocks
  • 3. Top-Down Verification Workflow
Use off-the-shelf standards-based functionality or customize for your system

Many applications that connect to 5G and LTE networks need to start by obtaining signal information such as searching for the strongest cell, detecting the primary and secondary synchronization signals (PSS/SSS), and recovering the master and system information blocks (MIB/SIB). Wireless HDL Toolbox™ includes hardware-proven white-box implementations of these subsystems, so you can plug them into your design or modify them with any custom functionality you may need.

Configure fixed-point hardware models

The algorithms that wireless communications rely on, such as FFT, LDPC, Polar, and Turbo codes, can consume a great deal of time and effort to implement efficiently and correctly in hardware. In the top-down workflow, you can build your design using these blocks off-the-shelf. Simulate their hardware behavior, quickly adjust many of the key algorithm parameters, and then generate synthesizable RTL.

Reuse higher-abstraction models to verify implementations

In traditional workflows, engineers write a specification document based on the algorithms often developed in MATLAB. The top-down workflow using MATLAB and Simulink maintains connection through each refinement step. You can use the same synthesized or captured waveforms to drive both the frame-based golden reference algorithm and the stream-of-samples hardware implementation and directly compare the results.


“This approach saved us at least a year of engineering effort and enabled me to complete the implementation myself without having to hire an additional digital engineer.” – Matthew Weiner, 
RF Pixels

Key Takeaways

  • Save hardware design and verification time and effort by using proven IP
  • Focus your hardware engineering resources on your unique functionality
  • Verify, adjust, and generate code from high-abstraction wireless design IP 

Learn More About Design IP

Explore the reference applications and design IP blocks in Wireless HDL Toolbox.
Learn more
Section 4

Code Generation for Hardware Design and Verification

Explore and simulate hardware architecture, then automatically generate project-specific RTL and verification components

Relying on specification documents to communicate functional intent exposes risks from oversights and assumptions and makes it difficult to adapt to changes. A top-down workflow refines the high-level algorithms with hardware implementation architecture, enabling easy exploration of more options, followed by high-level verification. From there you can directly generate code and models to begin production hardware design and verification.

Collaboration Between Algorithm and Hardware Engineers

Hardware engineers can collaborate with communications and DSP engineers in a visual environment to adapt their algorithms with parallelism, timing, and fixed-point quantization to map efficiently to hardware while producing sufficiently accurate results. The result is an easy-to-follow simulation model from which you can generate code for downstream design and verification.

Target-Independent HDL Code Generation

After iterative refinement from algorithm to fixed-point hardware architecture, you can automatically generate readable and synthesizable VHDL® or Verilog® RTL. Customize the RTL for your project requirements and target device and adapt to changes with agility.

SystemVerilog Verification Component Generation

You can start connecting algorithm and hardware development by generating SystemVerilog DPI or UVM verification components from MATLAB or Simulink algorithms and tests. Automatic verification model generation enables changes in the digital algorithms to be quickly updated for simulation in analog implementation, and vice versa.

 

“We have improved communication between teams, reduced development time, and reduced risk by evaluating system performance early in the design process.” – 
Hitachi

Key Takeaways

  • Improve quality by exploring a broad range of hardware architecture options
  • Quickly adapt to changes and re-generate code for new requirements
  • Generate models to speed verification environment creation

Learn More About Code Generation

Connect with industry experts at MathWorks to learn how to get started.
Contact us