SHARC development -- VisualDSP++ is pretty much the only game in town, right?

Started by Joel Koltner June 3, 2011
Just curious... to perform SHARC software development (particularly on their 
newer SHARC devices), you pretty much have to pony up the $$$ for VisualDSP++, 
yes?  I found a few old projects for porting, e.g., gcc to the SHARC 
architecture (such as he g21k project... which hasn't been updated in well 
over a year), but nothing that appeared current/maintained.

This surprised me a little, so I figured I'd ask... especially given has how 
there's even some official ADI support for free development tools for the 
fixed-point Blackfin line of parts, in the form of uCLinux.

Thanks,
---Joel

On 06/03/2011 08:22 PM, Joel Koltner wrote:
> Just curious... to perform SHARC software development (particularly on their newer
SHARC devices), you pretty much have to pony up
> the $$$ for VisualDSP++, yes? I found a few old projects for porting, e.g., gcc to
the SHARC architecture (such as he g21k
> project... which hasn't been updated in well over a year), but nothing that
appeared current/maintained.
> > This surprised me a little, so I figured I'd ask... especially given has how
there's even some official ADI support for free
> development tools for the fixed-point Blackfin line of parts, in the form of
uCLinux. I don't know of anything else. TI's beta of CCS (5.x) runs on linux. It's not free, and it's not open source, but at least they are giving their customers more options. -- Randy Yates % "Watching all the days go by... Digital Signal Labs % Who are you and who am I?" mailto://yates@ieee.org % 'Mission (A World Record)', http://www.digitalsignallabs.com % *A New World Record*, ELO
"Joel Koltner" <zapwireDASHgroups@yahoo.com> wrote in
news:mVeGp.26611$rv2.1101@en-nntp-12.dc1.easynews.com: 

> Just curious... to perform SHARC software development (particularly on > their newer SHARC devices), you pretty much have to pony up the $$$ for > VisualDSP++, yes? I found a few old projects for porting, e.g., gcc to > the SHARC architecture (such as he g21k project... which hasn't been > updated in well over a year), but nothing that appeared > current/maintained. > > This surprised me a little, so I figured I'd ask... especially given has > how there's even some official ADI support for free development tools > for the fixed-point Blackfin line of parts, in the form of uCLinux. > > Thanks, > ---Joel >
There is another alternative to a full Visual DSP++ license. You can use a kit license which requires an EZ-KIT debug agent. The debug agent is provided with ADI EZ-Kits. We have dspblok modules based on the ADSP-21369 and ADSP-214xx that are also supported by the KIT license (We license the debug agent from ADI). The KIT license does not expire but does have a few restrictions. You must be connected to the debug agent (after the first 90 days) and program cosde is restricted to about 1/4 of the internal memory. This is about 28k instructions in an ADSP-21469. You can create bootable images that can be used on other targets. The old GCC tools were not very good. There was a very good reason that ADI bought several tools companies about 10 years ago. Al Clark www.danvillesignal.com
On 04.06.2011 4:22, Joel Koltner wrote:
> Just curious... to perform SHARC software development (particularly on > their newer SHARC devices), you pretty much have to pony up the $$$ for > VisualDSP++, yes? I found a few old projects for porting, e.g., gcc to > the SHARC architecture (such as he g21k project... which hasn't been > updated in well over a year), but nothing that appeared current/maintained. > > This surprised me a little, so I figured I'd ask...
SHARCs have traditionally been oriented to specific market niches (primarily, audio) and until recently they were quite expensive contrary to Blackfin parts, which are considered by many as GP processors with enhanced DSP capabilities and have been advertised as a low-cost yet powerful solution for wide range of applications since the first family member release (i don't take into account BF535). IMO that's the main reason behind absence of free alternatives to VDSP++ for SHARCs. There are no driving force in the developers community that would cause emergence of an alternative toolset. On the other hand, ADI must be spending a lot of money on development toolset design, i think, so the company is not interested in making it free of charge.
> especially given has > how there's even some official ADI support for free development tools > for the fixed-point Blackfin line of parts, in the form of uCLinux.
ADI doesn't provide any official support for the alternative development tools, be it uClinux, Multi or anything else. Their FAEs don't forget mentioning uClinux at seminars, of course :), but if you ask their support line any questions related to uClinux you'll be redirected to the BF uClinux forum in 99 per cent of the cases. -- Alexander
"Alexander Sotnikov" <alex.sotnikov@qip.ru> wrote in message 
news:isi09b$569$1@dont-email.me...
> SHARCs have traditionally been oriented to specific market niches > (primarily, audio) and until recently they were quite expensive contrary to > Blackfin parts, which are considered by many as GP processors with enhanced > DSP capabilities and have been advertised as a low-cost yet powerful > solution for wide range of applications since the first family member > release (i don't take into account BF535). IMO that's the main reason behind > absence of free alternatives to VDSP++ for SHARCs. There are no driving > force in the developers community that would cause emergence of an > alternative toolset. On the other hand, ADI must be spending a lot of money > on development toolset design, i think, so the company is not interested in > making it free of charge.
Yeah, I expect you're correct.
> ADI doesn't provide any official support for the alternative development > tools, be it uClinux, Multi or anything else.
Well, not directly to end-users, but I have seen Real Live ADI employees respond to posts on the uC Linux forum (there's just no *guarantee* of a response), and they do some uC Linux driver/distribution development on company time as well, AFAICT. Better than nothing, at least! Thanks for the information, ---Joel
Hi Al,

"Al Clark" <aclark@danvillesignal.com> wrote in message 
news:Xns9EFAE6BE31F98aclarkdanvillesignal@69.16.185.250...
> The KIT license does not expire but does have a few restrictions. You must > be > connected to the debug agent (after the first 90 days) and program cosde is > restricted to about 1/4 of the internal memory. This is about 28k > instructions in an ADSP-21469. You can create bootable images that can be > used on other targets.
My understanding (per page 25 of this document: http://www.analog.com/static/imported-files/software_manuals/50_license_mn_rev_1.3.pdf) is that you also lose access in in-circuit debugging (the "emulator") after those first 90 days, yes? The other restrictions -- limited to 1/4 of the memory and loss of the simulator -- wouldn't bother me for "messing around" usage. But then again, I'm sure many of the people here lived just fine for many years doing DSP development with little more than printf-style debugging... Thanks for the information -- I'll check out your web site here shortly. ---Joel
Hi Joel,

> My understanding (per page 25 of this document: >
http://www.analog.com/static/imported-files/software_manuals/50_license_mn_rev_1.3.pdf)
> is that you also lose access in in-circuit debugging (the "emulator") > after those first 90 days, yes?
EZ-KIT boards have their own in-circuit debugger, namely "Debug Agent", which provides most of the functions that the emulators do, but at lower speed. So while you're working with the EZ-KIT board, you can do the most necessary debugging things - setting breakpoints, viewing registers/memory etc. and even in-circuit flash programming with an EZ-KIT license (of course, with the restrictions on the code size as Al Clark mentioned). But when your project is completed and you want to port it to a custom board, you will still have to buy the full SHARC license and an emulator. BTW, ADI often offers a "bundle" of development tools (VDSP SW + emulator) at a discounted price, which can be as low as 40% of the normal price. -- Alexander
>I don't know of anything else. > >TI's beta of CCS (5.x) runs on linux. It's not free, and it's not open
source, but at least they are
>giving their customers more options.
Yeah, but you can get code-limited versions free for C28x and similar (their ARM parts) and the code generation tools are free as well (they apparently work in Linux.) Furthermore, a full - "platinum" - license is significantly less expensive than anything I've seen from AD. Painfully buggy that CCS is, but still useful. OT: I did not realize 5.x runs on Linux. That's a big deal. Did they fix the horrible Java memory leaks that plagued me with 4.x all last year? I have a beta 5.x on Winders but didn't invest the time to get my (then) project to build so it sits unused on a system at a company I no longer contract for... Mark
"Alexander Sotnikov" <alex.sotnikov@qip.ru> wrote in message 
news:iskhg6$2nq$1@dont-email.me...
> EZ-KIT boards have their own in-circuit debugger, namely "Debug Agent", > which provides most of the functions that the emulators do, but at lower > speed.
Ah, thanks, I hadn't realized that; that does add to the value proposition.
> But when your project is completed and you want to port it to a custom > board, you will still have to buy the full SHARC license and an emulator.
Hmm... there's no option to just generate a monolithic binary and then (freely) load it in (on the custom board) via JTAG, eh?
> BTW, ADI often offers a "bundle" of development tools (VDSP SW + emulator) > at a discounted price, which can be as low as 40% of the normal price.
Yeah, I've noticed... seems to be roughly once a year, and the past one ended about a month ago. Thanks for the help, ---Joel
Alexander Sotnikov <alex.sotnikov@qip.ru> wrote in
news:iskhg6$2nq$1@dont-email.me: 

> Hi Joel, > >> My understanding (per page 25 of this document: >> http://www.analog.com/static/imported-files/software_manuals/50_license_ >> mn_rev_1.3.pdf) is that you also lose access in in-circuit debugging >> (the "emulator") after those first 90 days, yes? > > EZ-KIT boards have their own in-circuit debugger, namely "Debug Agent", > which provides most of the functions that the emulators do, but at lower > speed.
Alexander is correct that the debug agent is essentially a slower ICE (at least when compared to the HP USB ICE). The most notable difference is when single stepping. It's works fairly well when you are just executing to stop on breakpoints. So while you're working with the EZ-KIT board, you can do the
> most necessary debugging things - setting breakpoints, viewing > registers/memory etc. and even in-circuit flash programming with an > EZ-KIT license (of course, with the restrictions on the code size as Al > Clark mentioned).
The code size limitation is not necessarily a show stopper. It is 1/4 the total memory which is usually 1/2 of the internal space used for program code (and coefficients). With the 4th generation SHARC - ADSP-21469, 479, 489, this is 28k words. You can write a lot of programs without this being a real restriction. But when your project is completed and you want to
> port it to a custom board, you will still have to buy the full SHARC > license and an emulator.
Yes and no, you must have the debugger connected for the KIT license to function (after 90 days). It continues to operate as long as the debug agent is connected. It also means that if you are developing for a specific target, for example, an ADSP-21469, you must have it connected to a ADSP- 21469 debugger board. The debug agent will not operate as a standalone ICE. On an EZ kit, this can be quite limiting since the board is not very production target friendly (It's intended as a learning platform). If you build your product around any of our dspbloks (21369 & 214xx), you can use a debugger version for development (based on the same ADI debug agent) and then use our smaller pin compatible 60mm x 60mm production modules. This works very well for small and medium sized production targets, by speeding up time to market and reducing design risk. If you are planning large volumes, the tools cost is probably not very significant in the overall scheme of things. SHAMELESS COMMERCE LINK: http://www.danvillesignal.com/dspblok/dspblok-dsp-modules.html The KIT license does not restrict you from creating bootable loader files that you can use on a production target without a debug agent. BTW, ADI often offers a "bundle" of development
> tools (VDSP SW + emulator) at a discounted price, which can be as low as > 40% of the normal price.
I think there have been two SHARC bundle sales. I don't know of any in the near future. The bundle included VDSP & the HP USB ICE (the fast ICE). We sell the ADI tools as well. Al Clark www.danvillesignal.com