- 1. How can the application help a embedded hardware designer?
Typically in a design of embedded board the engineer follows these steps to create a reliable design:
- Decides on the processor
- Capture requirements
- Decides peripherals and does component selection
- Check processor pin muxing option.
- Processor Boot up / Peripheral component bootstrap pin connection strategy
- Power estimation/ Power Sequence
- Resets and clock distribution strategy
- Generate and verify schematics
- Bill of material/ Layout help document.
These steps are sequential and take time and effort to implement. It is a lot of hard work and any issues/change in requirements will require engineer to keep circling in the flow.
Creating a hardware design with circuit tree is easy.
- Any processor hardware design can be created in a minute. The tool captures the processor and peripheral related information and follows the flow above to generate the design in a minute.
- The generated design is checked by a verification engine which checks the generated connections through list of rules.
- Any changes in the processor or components to be used in the existing design is very simple to make.
- The application can output the schematics , libraries and layout footprints in popular tool vendors
- 2. How is the generated design checked?
We have a seperate verification engine which checks for the design connections on the board. Be it inter components connections, pull ups, power connections, interface IO selection etc are checked by the application.
- 3. Can the application also do timing calculation and Pre-Signal integrity analysis?
Timing calculations : Yes. In the beta version of the application the layout help document contains the the various signal and clock routing constraints for peripheral connections. For reset, power generation and distribution timing calculations are done to ensure that it meets the circuit requirement. It does not generate separate timing information in any document.
Pre-Signal integrity information: No. It is highly recommended that the pre signal integrity analysis be performed on the design generated by application.
- 4. How do you ensure that component obsolescence, errata, ECN's don't affect my design?
Our component databases rely on certain API to know the part status. If the part status change we remove the component from the library. We ensure that all the recommended parts are in stock at most leading stores.
Errata check is still done manually by us.
- 5. How to add my parts/libraries in circuit tree application?
You can request your parts/libraries to be added in the design by dropping us a email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use the request part button to enter the details over a form in the requirement editor.
Part Libraries can be also added in circuit tree by providing us data in circuit tree defined xml format.
- 6. What are the limitations of the circuit tree application?
Currently we are not offering design solutions for:
- RF design are not currently supported by the tool.
- Analog filters etc are not currently supported by the tool.
- Programmable logic such as FPGA and CPLD can be added only with a xml file in circuit tree. This feature is not supported in the tool yet.
- The exported EDA files can have grid issues which can cause connections to be broken. We are working to resolve them.
- 7. How can the application help a semiconductor company?
There are several benefits:
1. We can easily integrate with documentation team and have models created right at silicon launch.
2. Your Customers can quickly create designs as per there requirement with circuit tree with less support work for the application team.
3. It benefits your board team as they can use the circuit tree platform to create design quickly by deleting a old processor and adding the new processor model.
4. Different form factor boards can be easily created with circuit tree.
- 8. What are the system requirements to run the application?
The application is designed for desktop only. In addition it is highly recommended that google chrome is used even though the application has been tested to work with mozilla also.
- 9. Reference designs are already provided by semiconductor companies. How can circuit tree help?
The reference designs provided by semiconductor companies are already proven and are used as a reference for most of the design. However the reference designs cater to a fixed functionality only. Using a existing design and modifying it is not always straightforward. Try adding /changing components in the design to see the effort it takes.
With circuit tree you get the benefit of reduced time to market and flexibility to change design on the fly and generating it with a reduced time to design.
- Requirement Captrue
- 1. How to use examples for generating a design?
In the menu bar there is an example section. There look for the processor you want to use and click on the example. A block diagram is loaded which contains list of predefined peripherals and features in it.
Next go ahead and press the get schematic button.
For more details of the tool you can refer to the guide
- 2. What different form factors are offered through the tool?
In the next release following board form factor options will be selectable
- Micro ATX
In the current release the custom board option is provided. Board power entry is predefined through a 2 pin header. The clocks , resets and power sequencing is generated on board.
- 3. Why do i get error while adding peripheral or when create schematic is pressed?
There can be number of reason why you may getting error:
- When a peripheral is added in the requirement page the processor checks for pin muxing option to see if the pins can be assigned for the user interface. If the solution cannot be generated then a pin muxing error will be generated. You can either press create schematic button or you will have to change the peripheral requirements or change the processor.
- Using devices which are not compatible with the processor interface or controller is not present
- Multiple peripherals devices are being used to interconnect to the processor which it cannot support.
- For any other issues you need to contact us with your username to us and or submit a ticket.
- 4. How can i change components which the tool has selected in the design?
Changing components in circuit tree is quite simple. Add the peripheral you wish to add in the board. Now click on the icon placed above the library component to open the pop up block.
In the pop up form you will need to select function and press get parts button to allow part selection for the processor. The application will take few seconds to select a component from the library and propose other alternatives. You can click upon the select matching parts and scroll through parts.
The component to be selected can be done by clicking on the radio button as shown below
- 5. How to select a component design/configuration options?
Design options are the features which needs to be selected during design period. For instance if you want to wish that a components should be connected with a crystal and not with a clock, then you can use a option. You can change the addresses, voltage options or booting option by exercising this feature. Some of the feature are auto detected selected for circuit design on which you not have a control. For instance RMII/MII selection power on configuration logic is selected by the AI engine.
To change configuration options follow the steps outlined in the link below:
Once the component is selected by circuit tree click on the icon shown below to open the configuration option menu which is custom for every component.
In the pop up menu select the drop down option from different tabs.
In case you are not sure or dont enter any values circuit tree will automatically preselect the options based on what it thinks is the best option.
- 6. How to add connectors in the design?
A connector can be used in the design to route any peripheral component connections to a connector. Please note the part selection is left to the user and the designs would be created with the dummy part connector details.
Add connector block from the left side to the canvas and define the number of pins supposed to be in the connector. Press ok and note the connector id JXX.
To route any connection to the connector select a peripheral and press route interface to connector icon as shown below:
next select the connector part number to route the processor interface connections to the connector
- Al Engine
- 1. How does the application create a complex hardware design?
The circuit tree application uses lots of models. The models contain the information which is needed by the engine to generate the design. There are number of rules which define how a component is to be connected to each other. These rules have been written by hardware design experts who have more than 20 years of experience in designing a working hardware. In addition it has very smart algorithms in different areas to generate a unique solution for every requirement.
With so many components and combinations the application has a verification engine also to ensure that the created design is correct and is highly functional. The process is completely automated and all designs are tested/checked by hardware design experts before they are allowed to be used by the tool.
- 2. How is the reset distributed on board?
Resets on boards can be generated by components, connectors or buttons etc. Circuit tree application finds out different category of resets from requirements and then creates circuit to ensure that it meet power sequencing, voltage thresholds and timing part of the reset.
Check our blog section to see a use case of reset distribution analysis done by the tool.
- 3. What are the type of clock circuits generated by the application?
The application can design a clock circuit for an embedded design using these different type of components
- Single ended clocks
- Clock crystals
- Differential clocks
- Single ended Clock buffers
- Differential clocks buffers
- Custom circuit clock generators (Ex. PCIe)
- Component generated clocks.
In beta release users will have an option to optimize and create dynamic circuits with options to changes how the clocks should be connected on board.
- 1. Which tools can the application created design exported to?
In the current release export to following tools is enabled:
- Altium designer
A user can also export complete design to a pdf file. To use this option go to export design and click on all pages pdf. The file would download on to your desktop.
In the next release we plan to offer support to following tool:
- Cadence Allegro
- Mentor pads.
- 2. What can i expect when i download the design packages?
When you select to export the design to various tools then a zip file is generated.
The zip file contains design information along with the scripts to help setup your
- Schematic file.
- Symbol Library
This functionality will be enabled from beta release only.
- 3. Is there is design document created with every design?
No currently the tool is not generating this document. This will be supported in later releases of the application.