Cologne Chip Starts Making Its Toolchain Open Source, Releases a GateMate Integrated Logic Analyzer

Shift away from proprietary tools starts with an ILA, available now under the GNU General Public License 3.

Gareth Halfacree
5 months agoFPGAs

Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) specialist Cologne Chip is delivering on its promise of a shift to a fully-open toolchain for its novel GateMate A1 chips, releasing an integrated logic analyzer (ILA) under a reciprocal free software license.

Cologne Chip launched the GateMate CCGM1A1 back in May last year, promising a device with flexibility beyond that of rival FPGAs thanks to the use of "Cologne Programmable Elements" or "CPEs" capable of being switched between acting as eight-input LUT trees or four-input LUT trees with matching flip-flops or latches. At the time, the company's toolchain was based around the free and open Yosys project but with a proprietary pick-and-place package of Cologne Chip's own design — something the company promised to address in future updates.

Now Cologne Chip has begun to deliver on that promise with the release of an integrated logic analyzer (ILA) tool, brought to our attention by CNX Software and released under a reciprocal free software license. "With the ILA," the company explains, "you can perform in-system debugging of your designs on the GateMate FPGA during runtime. It allows you to capture and analyze all signals of your design as a waveform directly within the FPGA, while it is configured with your design. This means, for example, that you can monitor complex data flows in real-time and troubleshoot errors efficiently without disrupting the normal operation of your system."

The company claims its Python-based tool offers the ability to simultaneously analyze more than 1,000 bits from all signals, can analyze signals from designs in a waveform format, offers custom triggers, can use all available RAM in order to maximize capture length, and can reset the device under test to capture everything from startup onward. Cologne Chip also promises a "simple, interactive, self-explanatory shell" for configuration.

The release comes as the first third-party GateMate A1 development boards begin to appear, with Bulgarian open hardware specialist Olimex preparing to launch the GateMateA1-EVB — a feature-packed development board which, the company hopes, will retail for around €50 (around $54) and thus significantly undercut the cost of the official GateMate development board while offering features including 64Mb of pseudo-static RAM (PSRAM), a VGA video output and PS/2 keyboard input, and general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins switchable between 1.2V, 1.8V, and 2.5V logic levels.

The Cologne Chip GateMate ILA is available to download from the company's GitHub repository now, under the GNU General Public License 3.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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