ARM Technical Support Knowledge Articles

Why does Progcards_RVI fail to program large FPGA bitfiles?

Applies to: Versatile Logic Tiles

Answer

[Updated 23 April 2008]

Symptoms:

Versions of Progcards for RealView ICE (progcards_rvi.exe) up to and including v3.0.0 are not able to program FPGA bitfiles (.bit) over approximately 3MB in size. This can be a problem with users of Xilinx Virtex-4 based logic tiles that require .bit files above this size. A typical error message is as follows:

ERROR: Your RVI firmware does not support programming files larger than 3.25MB.

Please upgrade it to version 3.0.1 or higher.

Cause:

As part of the programming algorithm, the RVI unit buffers the entire .bit file internally before writing it to the target board. Older versions of the RVI firmware have this internal programming buffer arbitrarily set to be 3MB.

Solution:

Update your RVI unit to firmware version 3.0.1 or higher. Patches can be found here.

Notes:

RVI firmware: If you need to upgrade your RVI firmware to a higher base version, for example v1.7 to v3.0, you will need to obtain a RealView ICE CD-ROM from your local ARM Sales office.

Progcards utility: In order for progcards_rvi.exe to function, it needs to find the correct version of the file 'prog_engine_x_y' in the current execution directory. The latest versions of the Progcards files can be found here.

Workarounds if latest RVI firmware not available:

1. Use the built-in USB debug/programming port on the baseboard (the USB port nearest the power supply input connectors). This can be used for programming FPGAs/PLDs by placing the system in CONFIG mode and running progcards_usb on the host PC. Note that the first time a board is connected to the host machine's USB port, the Windows OS will need to install a driver, which can be found on the Versatile installation CD-ROM. The latest version of progcards_usb can be downloaded here.

2. Get the Xilinx Bitgen utility to produce a compressed .bit file. This may or may not solve the problem depending on whether the compressed file is smaller than the 3MB limit. To produce a compressed file, edit the supplied build script files to include the "-g compress" option on the bitgen command line. The Bitgen utility is documented on the Xilinx website: Xilinx ISE BitGen options.

Article last edited on: 2009-01-20 18:20:45

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