SimBSP: Enabling RTL Simulation for Intel FPGA OpenCL Kernels
Abstract: RTL simulation is an integral step in FPGA development since it provides cycle accurate information regarding the behavior and performance of custom architectures, without having to compile the design to actual hardware. Despite its advantages, however, RTL simulation is not currently supported by a number of commercial FPGA OpenCL toolflows, including Intel OpenCL SDK for FPGAs (IOCLF). Obtaining reliable performance values for OpenCL kernels requires a full compilation to hardware, while emulation can only provide functional verification of the C code. Thus, development and optimization time-frames for IOCLF designs can be on the order of days, even for simple applications. In this work, we present our custom Board Support Package for IOCLF, called SimBSP, which enables OpenCL kernels to be compiled for RTL simulation.
We provide details regarding the standard kernel ports created by the IOCLF compiler, which can be used by testbenches to interface the generated design. We also list the addresses and descriptions of configuration registers that are used to set kernel parameters and provide a start trigger. Finally, we present details of SimBSP toolflow, which is integrated into the standard IOCLF and automates the process of generating kernel HDL and testbenches, and setting up the simulation environment. Our work on SimBSP will be made available Open Source to drive a community effort towards further improving the toolflow.
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