README for the spi_boot core
Version: $Date: 2007-08-08 22:55:46 $
$Name: not supported by cvs2svn $
The SD/MMC Bootloader is a CPLD design that manages configuration and
bootstrapping of FPGAs. It is able to retrieve the required data from
SecureDigital (SD) cards or MultiMediaCards (MMC) and manages the FPGA
configuration process. SD cards as well as MMCs are operated in SPI mode which
is part of both standards thus eliminating the need for dedicated
implementations. The SD/MMC Bootloader fits both. Beyond configuration, this
core supports a bootstrapping strategy where multiple images are stored on one
single memory card.
For example consider a system completely based on SRAM. The bootloader
provides the initial configuration data from the first image to the FPGA. This
image contains a design which pulls the next image from the memory card and
transfers this data to SRAM. In the third step the final FPGA design is loaded
from the third image.
These images are clustered in sets which can be selected by external switches
for example. Several configuration sets can be stored on one memory card
allowing you to provide a number of applications which are downloaded quickly
to the FPGA.
The schematic (rev. B) shows how the core can be used with an FPGA board. I
use it to configure/boot the Xilinx Spartan IIe on BurchED's B5-X300
board. SV2 fits the "SERIAL MODE" connector on this board but you will have to
add a separate wire from R6 to attach INIT. Please check the proper use of the
pull-up resistors for your specific board.
* Configuration mode: configures SRAM based FPGAs via slave serial mode
(Xilinx and Altera)
* Data mode: provides stored data over a simple synchronous serial interface
* Broad compatability using SPI mode
+ SecureDigital cards using dedicated initialization command
+ MultiMediaCards (see below)
* Operation triggerd by power-up or card insertion
* Multiple configuration sets stored on on single memory card
These cards have been tested with the SD/MMC Bootloader:
* Hama 64 MB SD
* SanDisk 128 MB SD
* SanDisk 64 MB MMC
* Panasonic 32 MB SD
Some MMC might fail with this core as not all cards support CMD18
(READ_MULTIPLE_BLOCK). Please consult the data sheet of your specific
model. In case your MMC does not implement CMD18 you might want to have a look
at the FPGA MMC-Card Config project.
Downloading the configuration data to the card is a straight forward
process. The images have to be written starting at dedicated locations. For
the provided toplevel designs, these locations are multiples of 256 K. I.e. 0,
0x40000, 0x80000 and so forth.
dd (part of the GNU coreutils) serves this purpose:
$ dd if=ram_loader.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=512
$ dd if=pongrom_6.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=512 seek=512
$ dd if=pacman.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=512 seek=1024
The name of the device node depends on how the card reader is attached to the
kernel. For Linux systems this is most often something like /dev/sdX with X
ranging from a-z. Please note that it is essential to use the device without
any trailing numbers as they refer to partitions leading to wrong offsets for
data written to the card.
All this works perfectly for my Spartan IIe device as this FPGA expects the
configuration data as it is delivered from the card: Consecutive bytes each
with its most significant bit first. Altera devices like the FLEX family are
different here. They expect the bytes with least significant bit
first. Therefore, the configuration data has to be swapped bitwise before it
is written to the card. Michael Libeskind kindly provided a program that
accimplishes this task. Find it in sw/misc/bit_reverse.c.
The spi_boot core comes with a simple testbench that simulates an SD/MMC
card. All four implementations of the core are verified there in parallel
while transferring the data for several sets.
You should normally not need to run the testbench. But in case you modified
the VHDL code the testbench gives some hints if the design has been broken.
The core's directory structure follows the proposal of OpenCores.org.
\--+-- doc : Documentation
| \-- src : Source files of documentation
| \-- vhdl : VHDL code containing the RTL description
| of the core.
| \-- vhdl : VHDL testbench code.
\-- rtl_sim : Directory for running simulations.
Directory rtl/vhdl/ram_loader contains the sample design which loads the next
image from the card and stores its contents to external asynchronous
RAM. After reading 64 KB it triggers a new configuration process for the final
Refer to the code for the mechanisms involved.
Compiling the VHDL Code
VHDL compilation and simulation tasks take place inside in sim/rtl_sim
directory. The project setup supports only the GHDL simulator (see
To compile the code simply type at the shell
This should result in a file called tb_behav_c0 which can be executed as any
The basic simple sequence list can be found in COMPILE_LIST. This can be
useful to quickly set up the analyze stage of any compiler or
synthesizer. Especially when synthesizing the code, you want to skip the VHDL
configurations in *-c.vhd and everything below the bench/ directory.
* SanDisk SD Card Product Manual
* SanDisk MMC Product Manual
* Toshiba SD Card Specification
* FPGA MMC-Card Config project