IDT 574 August 2002 Design

MIPS memory board

The companion MIPS memory board which would include trace capability (October, 2002). The two year old project was finally dumped as not novel for post-grad research, particularly with new chip announcements.

IDT 574 PCB layout

The IDT574 design was first started part-time during the second half of 2000. The menu options above give a brief account of the other three shots at trying to get into 64-bit embedded design.

The 64-bit MIPS processor had a 32-bit multiplexed address/ data bus. The 300,000 gate FPGA would be suitable for a memory interface with some debug capability. The Flash would need to be programmed via the FPGA or loading up the static RAM.

The latter part of 2001 was jumping from one design to another. By now, eighteen months of weekly commuting without a good reason to relocate to Cape Town or Pretoria, I looked into a research option. I had spent my own money some time back on memory-, FPGA- and processor chips, so while waiting for projects and grants, a platform was required. It would also be a nice idea to at least get the IDT574 board out, but it would be put on the “back burner” when paid work received higher priority.

2002 was a busy year and the lack of a trace port on a readily available MIPS board sunk it as a candidate for post-grad research. The lack of a debug port on the IDT574 would hurt any serious real-time work. For an industrial platform, Ethernet was essential. At 200 MHz at the end of 2002, the design was not worth further effort. MIPS lost a lot of momentum, or perhaps the PowerPC, AVR32 and ARM just caught up (not in 64-bits, but we were unlikely to be able to install 64-bit devices into any local industry). For research, it would be possible to load up static RAM through the dual-in-line header next to the FPGA via a small processor, but customers would not be interested. Our own efforts with VHDL with no “single step” capability, not being able to probe TQFP packages, and lack of commercial trace toolchain at realistic prices make the design and board on the left “shelfware”. Highly intergated devices in 2003 would include debug, Ethernet, memory interfaces, trace ports....