Xilinx: Debugging FPGA hardware with the JTAG-to-AXI Bridge

Adam Taylor, author of the "MicroZed Chronicles" on how to use the Xilinx Zynq and Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC, discusses more advanced debugging using µC/Probe with Zync-based systems.

Over the last two installments of this blog series, we have explored Micrium’s μC/Probe and using it’s virtual dashboard and oscilloscope capabilities to debug code on the Zynq SoC’s PS. Then, I started thinking about how we might use μC/Probe to debug hardware in the Zynq SoC’s PL. The most obvious choice is to insert an integrated logic analyzer (ILA) IP core into the hardware design to observe AXI, AXI Stream, or native logic signals as we have done several times in the MicroZed Chronicles series. Similarly, if we wish to change a signal’s value at runtime, we can use the virtual input-output IP core to toggle the state of a signal or bus. Reading or modifying the contents of an AXI device within the PL will be a little more complicated, but it can be done by using the JTAG-to-AXI Bridge to connect into the AXI network and then reading or writing to any peripheral on the bus using Vivado’s hardware manager and a TCL script.

To debug designs that contain embedded processing, we could, of course, write a simple software application for the processor that reads and writes registers in the PL. However, this is not always possible, especially if there are separate hardware- and software development teams. FPGA development teams are sometimes unused to developing embedded software so it can be quicker and easier to use the JTAG-to-AXI bridge for testing out basic hardware functionality before passing the design over to the software development team.

There is also another very important use case for the JTAG-to-AXI bridge if the design does not contain an embedded processing core. (For example, it’s not a Zynq SoC that you’re debugging and you haven’t instantiated a MicroBlaze processor in your FPGA.) AXI is often used to configure and connect IP blocks available via the Vivado IP library. Even if you don’t have an embedded processor available, the JTAG-to-AXI bridge enables fast hardware-in-the-loop testing to ensure that the block performs as intended.

Read the full article at Xilinx.com.

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