News


May 6, 2016 – Fidus Attended the Embedded Systems Conference and BIOMEDevice Expo in Boston

ESCFidus attended the  Embedded Systems Conference and BIOMEDevice Expo on May 6th! The Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) is the industry’s largest, most comprehensive technical conference for embedded systems professionals in the US.

The ESC Boston Technical Conference Program consists of 8 tracks covering all aspects of embedded systems design, from concept development through to prototyping, debugging, and manufacturing decisions. ESC is offering a full program of technical training, post-mortems, teardowns, and hands-on sessions, allowing us all to absorb practical, actionable information to cut time, money, and complexity out of the embedded development process.

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The Demo Hall  showcased vendors with new products one could use or evaluate head-to-head for potential future use.

ESC Conference Tracks:

Connected Devices and the IoT | Embedded Software Design | Hardware:

Design, I/O and Interfacing | Prototyping | Embedded Systems Design | Software: Design, Languages, & Quality | Fantastical Theater | Teardowns |


BIOMEDevice_MTW_NE_4cThe BIOMEDevice Expo will be showcasing the latest industry innovations and emerging technologies, including:

Manufacturing Equipment | Cleanroom & Sterilization | Contract Manufacturing | Design Services | Electronic Components | Medical Grade Materials | Packaging & Labeling | 3D Printing | and Testing & QA/QC |

This event includes a 1 day conference on wireless device technology, a full day on quality control and assurance content, 3D printing presentations on both days of the event, and a 75 minute session on medical device design.

There will be dozens of prominent speakers attending, including representatives from Deloitte Consulting, Intel, Medtronic, Philips Healthcare, Smith & Nephew, Stratasys, Stryker, UL and numerous universities.

Both of these events are occurring at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

www.embeddedconf.com/boston/
biomedevice.mddionline.com/

April 18-21, 2016 – Fidus will be attending NAB Show

Hi! I’m Scott Turnbull, Director of Technology at Fidus Systems.

I would like to personally invite you to visit Fidus at the NAB Show, in the Las Vegas Convention Center from April 18th to 21st.

Don’t know Fidus yet? Think of us as your high-speed, high-complexity electronic design services partner that gets your products to market faster.

We’ll be showing off some of our 4K and 8K developments, featuring 12G-SDI, HDMI4K, and Xilinx FPGAs. Get a glimpse of our new 12G-SDI Gearbox, or as we call it, the Gearbox “plus”. Find out why when you stop by.

Use the passcode below for free entry into the exhibits and use Fidus to get your products to market faster.

See you at NAB!

MAIN

Details:
Dates: April 18-21, 2016
Location: Las Vegas Convention Center
Booth #: N5520 (North Hall)
Free Exhibits Registration Code: LV4629
Contact: Scott Turnbull (scott.turnbull@fidus.com)

http://nabshow.com/attend/show-overview

January 19-21, 2016 – Fidus attended DesignCon

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The DesignCon Technical Conference Program consists of 14 tracks covering all aspects of electronic design, from chips through boards and systems.

Through more than 100 technical paper sessions, panels and tutorials, conference attendees gather the latest theories, methodologies, applications and advanced design tools related to signal integrity, power integrity, jitter, crosstalk, test and measurement, parallel and memory interface design, ICs, semiconductor components and more.

DesignCon 2016 will be host to three insightful, informative and inspirational keynotes from industry luminaries.

Selected through a rigorous review process conducted by the Technical Program Committee, DesignCon speakers constitute an elite group of practicing engineers, offering leading-edge case studies, technology innovations, practical techniques, design tips and application overviews.

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September 10-15, 2015 – Fidus attended #IBC2015

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IBC unites the technologies and business models powering the creation, management and delivery of all forms of electronic media content to consumers in a world where content is everywhere.

From OTT delivery, mobile TV and Cloud production to the economics of Ultra HD, digital cinema innovation and the rise of social television, IBC sits at the forefront of all the recent major changes in the industry.

IBC sits at the global crossroads of the electronic media and entertainment industry and provides a full and vibrant experience, whether you are a student or CEO, an innovative start-up to media superpower. Held at the world-class venue, the Amsterdam RAI, every September, it is always at the forefront of industry innovation and provides unrivalled networking opportunities. Join 55,000 attendees from more than 170 countries for IBC2015 between 10 – 15 September.

The IBC Exhibition covers fourteen halls across the RAI and hosts over 1,700 exhibitors spanning the creation, management and delivery of electronic and media entertainment. Integral to your IBC Experience are a number of specially curated Feature Areas and events. These are hosted throughout the IBC Exhibition and tie into the IBC Conference to enrich your understanding of technologies and trends that are driving the industry.

The IBC Conference is an unrivalled global destination for discussion and debate about the many different challenges facing the electronic media and entertainment industry, both in its sessions and in the range of networking opportunities it affords. Featuring some of the foremost thought-leaders, innovators and policy makers in their fields and covering a wide breadth of topics, it is the place to explore new strategies, understand business disruptors, chart future technological progress and uncover the future roadmap

August 4, 2015 – Fidus Attends TechTuesday

tech Teusday
The Summer Beat Goes On!

Tech Tuesdays is a networking event held on the first Tuesday of every month for Ottawa’s high-tech community. It is sponsored by the Wesley Clover Foundation.

Tech Teusday has a terrific turnout for their annual BBQ in July! Fidus was able to attend the latest Tech Teusday event on August 4th.

Details
Date: Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
Time: 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: The Marshes Golf Club, 320 Terry Fox Drive, Kanata
Cost: No charge

July 19, 2015 – Fidus works with Xilinx® SDSoC™

SD
The Xilinx SDSoC™ development environment is a member of the Xilinx SDx™ family that provides a greatly simplified ASSP-like C/C++ programming experience including an easy to use Eclipse IDE and a comprehensive design environment for heterogeneous Zynq® All Programmable SoC and MPSoC deployment. Complete with the industry’s first C/C++ full-system optimizing compiler, SDSoC delivers system level profiling, automated software acceleration in programmable logic, automated system connectivity generation, and libraries to speed programming.

To access the capabilities of SDSoC, please visit http://www.xilinx.com/products/design-tools/software-zone/sdsoc.html.

Fidus Systems is an SDSoC development environment-qualified Xilinx Alliance Member, and a Xilinx Premier Design Services member, offering electronic product development and design services.

Xilinx® SDSoC™ – The First Encounter

Foreword
As a Xilinx® Premier Design Services member, Fidus is always working with Xilinx’s latest and greatest hardware, tools, and methodologies. This time, we got our hands on an Early Access license for Xilinx’s brand new SDSoC™ development environment and began working with the tool. As Xilinx prepares for general release of the SDSoC development environment, here is a story of our very first SDSoC undertaking.

Below are the candid memoirs of Dessislav Valkov, Fidus Team Leader. Enjoy!

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Objective
Use the SDSoC development environment to move an open source AES-256 encryption algorithm from ‘C’ into hardware, to facilitate the comparison of software execution time vs hardware execution time on Xilinx’s Zynq® SoC.

Platform
Avnet® Zedboard™ (Note: although Zynq contains dual ARM® Cortex™-A9 cores, I only made use of a single core, running at 667MHz)
OS: Windows 7 (see story)
Software: Xilinx SDSoC 2015.2 development environment

Introduction
A few years ago we had the chance to work with, what was at the time, a brand new tool from Xilinx called HLS (High Level Synthesis). The goal of HLS was to compile native C/C++ to synthesizable HDL, thus enabling software developers to take advantage of the benefits of FPGAs. Various companies had tried making these types of tools in the past, albeit with mixed success. We concluded that HLS worked well, although it still had a steep learning curve for a software developer, and thus, typically still required some hand holding by the FPGA specialist.
Today, SDSoC has embedded the design flow into an Eclipse based IDE thus allowing software designers to target hardware in a familiar and much more abstracted environment. The tool can also intelligently partition the algorithm into software and hardware, then select the interfaces between the application and the translated HDL functions, and finally, automatically build a Linux or bare metal (just to mention the big two) SD card image. All of this strives to make the whole design process seamless to a SW developer.

“Here’s what I did”
1. Obtained and installed SDSoC 2015.2 from Xilinx

    a. It requires a separate license which had to be installed as well using the standard Xilinx license manager.
    b. Worth mentioning that the tool seemed to have some stability issues on RedHat 6.6 and so with great reluctance I had to install it on Windows 7 where it was performing as expected. It is a brand new tool and that probably makes some sense, although I was expecting it to be the opposite.

2. Configuring the environment is straight forward and similar to the other Eclipse based SDK tools from Xilinx.

      a. First I had to configure the Linux TCF Agent to connect to my Zedboard IP; establishing the debugging communication channel.

b. After that, I had to configure the debug configuration with the TCF Agent, and the local and the remote .elf file location. Interestingly, sometimes the tool found the three settings automatically, but most often I had to do it manually. I also noted that the Zedboard DHCP always picked an IP already in use my some other machine, so I had to assign it manually after each reboot. I didn’t look into this, so it’s probably just me.

3. After experimenting with some of the example projects provided with the tool, I was ready to tackle the mission code. To be fair, it was a really refreshing experience. Everything worked as promised in the three YouTube tutorials (see links below). How often does that happen?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiOXTJ8IkJA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUoQOMZYWnA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnKdrCLszQM&feature=youtu.be

4. It was decided that we should try to optimize the same code we tried back then on Vivado HLS. After downloading the freely available AES-256 from the web, coding a simple top level calling function, and trying to compile it with SDSoC, it became clear that there are some new rules which should be followed. The pure C++ compilation was completing without any errors, but when I assigned the AES-256 function to be implemented in hardware, SDSoC complained about a couple things:

      a. It could not find the body of the AES function, because it was in a separate file from the calling function. Obviously SDSoC wants to have all functions dedicated for implementation in HW in the same file. An easy fix.

b. Next, SDSoC didn’t like the function parameters which were declared like pointer to arrays:
void call_aes_rtl(uint8_t * key, uint8_t * message, uint8_t * cipher);
This is understandable since a function implemented in hardware must have rigidly defined parameters passed back and forth, since hardware cannot accommodate on the fly the pointers to potentially different sized arrays. The C++ compiler didn’t have problems deriving the array sizes from the code, but SDSoC compiler needed something more explicit in the parameters declaration:
void call_aes_rtl(uint8_t key[32], uint8_t message[32], uint8_t cipher[32]);
Although to a software guy this might not be a very common way of passing arrays, this was exactly what was needed. Thanks to the example projects it was easy to find out what the tool was expecting.

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Aside
Compiling HLS can be quite involved. For example, back in the day, we had to define the function’s parameters as ports using the special HLS #pragma properties. This told the HLS compiler exactly how to implement every parameter as a port – Master/Slave port, AXI-Lite, AXI-FIFO, AXI-ACP, etc. SDSoC can also use the #pragma for fine tuning, but even without additional effort it immediately recognized the ports and picked the best fit. In our case, SDSoC picked AXI-FIFO for each one of three ports, since the three ports had to transfer arrays of 32 elements each. I was relieved how well SDSoC completed this task.

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      c. Running SDSoC is quite intuitive, and software like, in the way that it handles debugging, code stepping, and variable updates, on the active platform. In addition to the standard SDDebug and the SDRelease configurations, Xilinx have added a new one called SDEstimate. SDEstimate can offer insight into the speed improvements one could expect by pushing a function into hardware, prior to undertaking the actual HDL compilation, testing, and, benchmarking.

d. To be fair, as an HDL designer I could not stop myself from optimizing the C code just a little. In the original code, the AES function was working with the three arrays directly in the memory, with many reads and writes occurring during the message encryption/decryption cycles. My background told me that when moved to hardware these unnecessary accesses over the AXI interfaces will be very detrimental to the total performance, so I decided to copy the three arrays locally to the AES function, thus limiting the access over the AXI-FIFO interface only to the initial vectors loading and result unloading – three arrays of 32 elements each.

e. Then I had to copy the already prepared SDcard image containing a light Linux distribution, together with the files needed to run my Linux application. Just drag and drop the SDcard folder to the SDcard, insert the SDcard to the Zedboard, power it and see Linux booting on the COM port (configured 115200,8,1,N).

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Flashback
For Linux to boot on a Zedboard in the pre-SDSoC/early HLS times – I had to do quite a few things manually. First, generate the device tree. Then clone Xilinx Linux Git repository, and configure and build the kernel. Then clone the Buildroot/BusyBox Git repository and configure and build the file system with the applications we might want to use. And not to forget packaging our C++ application binary in the file system. Configure and compile u-boot bootloader. Now, with SDSoC, all of this is just copy and paste to the SD card. Compared to all this SDSoC saves a lot of time and typing. Not to mention that the stock SDSoC Linux distribution comes with persistent file system, SSH, and a CGI-Perl web server, which is so handy.

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5. With the system now running, I was able to quickly figure out that the SDSoC targeted hardware was running 7x faster, at only 143MHz in the programmable logic fabric, compared to the algorithm in software on the 667MHz processor. Check out the benchmarks below.

AES-256 in SW:
Delta time 3752 us = (new timestamp 555258 us) – (old timestamp 551506 us)
Calculated cipher \„NÔo˜^]jO”Ç×
AES-256 as HDL:
Delta time 550 us = (new timestamp 555840 us) – (old timestamp 555290 us)
Calculated cipher \„NÔo˜^]jO”Ç×

    And frankly, this was purely a software coded AES-256 algorithm compared to the identical code implemented in the programmable logic, with near zero design effort, and definitely no significant attempts at internal algorithm optimization. Pretty powerful stuff. Pretty cool too.

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Aside
This 7x optimization in speed is significantly better compared to the original HLS-only implementation improvement from a few years back. In both cases the C code interface was handled with as minimal effort as possible and with no further attempts to improve performance with directed HLS #pragma driven optimizations.

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Conclusion
SDSoC was really quick and easy: It took me 3 days to implement in hardware an pre-existing AES-256 algorithm written in C++. Really though, most of that time time was spent on learning SDSoC features and configurations, which thankfully were very consistent with the other Eclipse based tools. Not bad for a newbie. SDSoC does seem to be all that!

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Other thoughts
1. Looking ahead:

      a. I want to check out if I can get things running even faster! Up the fabric speed, optimize, etc.

b. I want to see if SDSoC supports Partial Reconfiguration (PR) and Isolation Design Flow (IDF) using Xilinx IVT tool (http://www.xilinx.com/applications/isolation-design-flow.html). If so, things should be way easier than before. Before SDSoC we used Vivado HLS to implement different C++ HLS and RTL code in the same reconfigurable partition with the twist of IDF. It was quite doable, but not trivial. Today SDSoC offers the whole Vivado IPI project, another very nice and handy feature which hopefully simplifies PR and IDF flows as well.

2. On the videos above, you can see that there are example projects using the famous OpenCV libraries (http://docs.opencv.org/doc/tutorials/tutorials.html). OpenCV basically gives you the power of processing images and video in a standard and rich framework. Really impressive stuff. And in the earlier versions of the tool there were example projects using these libraries, but for some reason they were removed from the standard distribution of SDSoC. This is my Christmas wish – Xilinx, please, put them back in.

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About Fidus Systems
Fidus Systems provides Electronic Product Development and Consulting Services to companies across a wide range of industries. Focusing on high-speed, complex designs, Fidus enables your success with multiple design centers, a large full-time staff, and flexible business models.

Fidus provides high-speed, high complexity, electronic product development and consulting services across a wide range of industries. As a Xilinx® Alliance Program Premier Design Services Member, Fidus designs Xilinx solutions to enable customer products. Xilinx highlights: Vivado®, 7-series, Zynq®, Partial Reconfiguration, HLS, SDR, mixed signal, JESD204B, 4k+ video/broadcast, emulation, and FMC development.

By leveraging in-house expert knowledge, and utilizing industry leading tools, Fidus delivers excellence in Hardware, FPGA/DSP, Signal Integrity, Embedded Software, RF/Wireless, and PCB Layout. Fidus is proud to be selected and recognized as Premier Design Services Member for Xilinx North America.

Since 2001, Fidus has delivered over 1000 products/projects for more than 300 customers.

June 16-17, 2015 – Fidus to Exhibit at Devens Robotica 2015

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Devens Robotica features live demonstrations of world class robot and unmanned vehicle systems in an outdoor and real world environment. The Event is being held at what may soon be the world’s most technologically advanced community, Devens, MA, just west of Boston in the hub of the Northeast’s robo-innovation corridor.

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Organized by the Devens Inter-Operability Playground for multi-environment and real world testing and commercialization of robotic and unmanned systems, the Devens Robotica events are sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), in collaboration with the Robotics Cluster of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC).
Join the hundreds of attendees and exhibitors at the inaugural 2015 event. Highlights include (tentative) WPI’s Atlas Robot entry into DARPA’s Robotic Challenge, QinetiQ, Harvest Automation, iRobot and other application demonstrations, plus Maritime, Ground, and Air Pavilions featuring driverless vehicles, tele-presence robots, UV’s and more.
Take in the plenary sessions, workshops, and keynote speakers from Govenment, Industry, and Academia…plus a host of Subject Matter Experts in the fields of Medical, Transportation, Aviation, Maritime, Industrial and Commercial Automation, Personal Robots and Driverless Vehicle Systems.

May 28, 2015 – Big Bike for Heart and Stroke

bigbike-logoFidus Rode the Big Bike on May 28th for the Heart and Stroke Foundation!

“One bike. 30 seats. 20 minutes. 2kms. One great team working to create more survivors!”

Our team members raised a total of $2100 in support of heart disease and stroke research! The Kanata North BIA area raised a total of $17500 for the cause! We are very proud to have been a part of this special event.

This community event included some laughing, smiling, and celebrating! Every dollar raised is money going towards creating more survivors of heart disease and stroke. Many Canadians are touched by heart disease and stroke each year.

More than 8 million dollars was raised last year in the Big Bike event, with over 70,000 riders!

Big Bike - Team Photo before Big Bike action shot
Fidus Team Prior to Launch! Action Racing Shot!

May 27-28, 2015 – Fidus Walks the Floor at CANSEC 2015

CANSEC
CANSEC is the largest military and defence show in the country! It is an annual defence and security trade show organized by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI). This year’s event took place at the EY Centre in Ottawa with more than 350 companies displaying their products and services.

As we stepped into the Ey Centre for CANSEC 2015, the registration line stretched back into the lobby, giving us a glimpse of how many people would show up this year! The numbers ended up being rather impressive, with organizers saying that over 11,000 individuals were at the show. Many were delegates from companies such as ourselves, and plenty of others were military delegates from Canada, the US and other nations around the world. Being Canada’s largest defence and security trade show, both large and small defence providers are attracted there to showcase their newest and best innovations.

Peter-Jean Francois LAV 6
Dr. Jean-Francois (RCAF) & Peter (Fidus) LAV 6.0 – General Dynamics

Perhaps the most impressive product (at least going by sheer size) was the LAV 6.0 from General Dynamics. The LAV 6 is Canada’s project to upgrade 550 LAV 3’s by 2017. These upgrades by General Dynamics will allow the LAV fleet to stay in use until 2035.

Aside from the clearly military presence of the LAV 6, many other equally impressive, but smaller items were on show. After several hours of walking through the event, talking to exhibitors, and taking photos, we had seen rockets, rifles, scopes, ammunition, off-road vehicles, drones, UAVs, surveillance systems, robots, satellite imaging, aircraft solutions, and more.

Polaris
Polaris Defence

Large defence players such as Thales Canada, Colt Canada, CAE Defence, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics were there, some of them with massive booth areas displaying a wide array of their different products and capabilities. For a full list of exhibitors, please check out the CANSEC 2015 website.

Colt
Colt Canada

Fidus has the impressive abilities of 65+ engineers, with expertise in all types of electronic product design and development. With our locations in Ottawa, San Jose, and Waterloo, we have a plethora of engineers that are able to consult with you in person in order to meet your needs! Our particular specialties revolve around high speed communications, high resolution video, and high performance computing. We are always looking for new contacts and interested parties that can use the defence experience that we have gained from designing for defence corporations and government.

Follow us on Twitter @FidusSystems!

May 21, 2015 – Fidus Hosts Open House at New Headquarters in Kanata

IMG_7936
Fidus hosted an open house last night for current and prospective clients. It was a very successful evening, with many individuals having a chance to see our new office space at the corner of March and Terry Fox in North Kanata. There was plenty to eat, no lack of drinks, and lots of space and time to mingle!

A demonstration area was set up so that everyone could get a chance to see demos of our products in action! Our new 12G-SDI to QUAD 3G-SDI Converter was showcased, along with our 12G-SDI, HDMI4K, ACDC A7, and 5GSPS FMCs.

Aside from the event offering a chance for great food, expert presentations and interesting conversation, there were a few customer appreciation awards given out:

Loyalty – In recognition of a long-standing, successful and mutually beneficial partnership with Fidus. *Alcatel and JDSU*

Collaboration – In recognition of a rewarding partnership with Fidus, working towards a common goal through creativity, teamwork and contagious enthusiasm. *Ross Video*

Innovation – In recognition of the active collaboration with Fidus to facilitate the translation of innovative ideas into great products. *Apple, Google, Colt, and ADI*

Thanks to all of our clients, associates, and partners for your help in getting Fidus to where we are today!