ROACH Bringup

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Due to the system complexity, a cold bringup of ROACH requires several steps to configure the necessary subsystems. This page will serve as a general overview of the process, while detailed descriptions and instructions will be provided in other documentation.

Please note that this procedure is performed at the assembly house (Digicom) before shipment. All boards are shipped fully configured and tested. You do not need to repeat this process yourself upon receipt of a ROACH board. This page serves as a reference so you can see what was done to the board you received.

The general flow of bringing up a newly-assembled ROACH board consists of the following steps:

  • Visual inspection of the board for fabrication and assembly problems
  • Ensure no shorts across all power supply rails
  • Configure XPORT device to allow remote communications access
  • Configure Actel FPGA to enable power monitor/management
  • Configure CPLD to support PowerPC operations
  • Configure PowerPC with u-boot bootloader
  • Write BORPH operating system into flash memory
  • Load Xilinx FPGA with test bitstream
  • Run FPGA tests

This process can currently be done using an automated script provided by KAT/SKA-SA. The script ties together the individual steps. The script runs on a ROACH test machine.


Visual Inspection

Visual inspection of each board should be performed to ensure all components are correctly populated and with the right orientation. Polarized passives and ICs should have orientation markers on the silkscreen. Previously-identified problem areas should be given extra attention and be inspected under magnification, if necessary.

Power Distribution Check

Before powering on a board, any power/ground shorts should be identified to help prevent damage to the board. ROACH has a fairly complex power system, subdivided and soft-switched.

ATX power system

ROACH is powered using a industry-standard ATX power supply, which provides soft on/off capabilities. Details about the ATX power supply standard can be found at ATX power is brought in on connector J18, which is also a convenient place to probe the ATX power nets. J18 follows the ATX standard pinout, as shown from a top-down view with J18 on the right-hand side of the board:

ROACH ATX Power.png

On-board power system

On-board power is regulated primarily from the ATX5V and ATX12V. ATX12V is used to generate 2.5V (U53), 1.8V (U27), and 1.5V(U51). ATX5V is used to generate 1.0V (U50), while ATX5VAUX is used to generate 3.3VAUX (U59), which is in turn used to generate 1.5VAUX using an on-chip regulator on the Actel FPGA (U60). All of the major voltage rails have voltage and current sense resistors connected to the Actel, which also double as probe points.

XPORT Configuration

The first step in board configuration is the XPORT (J28), which allows the test computer to remotely access the ROACH board during the process. The XPORT should be connected to the proper Ethernet port on the test computer using a Cat5 cable. When the XPORT is in its factory-default unconfigured state, it will seek an IP address using DHCP. It does this at increasing intervals, starting at 15 seconds after powerup. Because the test script has a timeout in establishing communications with the XPORT for the first time, it is easiest to power cycle the board at this step, forcing the XPORT to reboot and seek its address at the proper time.

Once the XPORT receives a known IP address using DHCP, a configuration file is copied to the XPORT device via its telnet interface. This setup file sets the network interface of the XPORT and gives it a static IP address of After this configuration, the XPORT is rebooted. When the XPORT comes back up with it static IP, the telnet interface is used for the remaining configuration parameters. Predefined strings are output over netcat to emulate a user interacting with the XPORT's telnet console. This method is used to configure the XPORT's 3 GPIOs and to set the XPORT's CPU into High-Performance mode.

When the XPORT configuration is completed, the test computer will be able to communicate with the Actel monitor. An XPORT daemon (process name xportd) is kept running in the background for the test scripts to use to communicate with the XPORT.

Actel Monitor/Management Configuration

The Actel FPGA (U60) is programmed using an Actel FlashPro3 USB programmer and the FlashPro software. The Actel FPGA has a dedicated JTAG connector (J27) for this purpose. Programming consists of 2 parts. The first step programs the FPGA fabric with a STAPL (roach_monitor.stp) file. In the second step, a UFC file with the board's serial number is generated, which is written into the non-volatile FlashROM memory on the FPGA.

Once configured, the Actel FPGA will be able to control the main power supplies of the board. It has been observed that the board requires a hard power cycle(that is, the board needs to stop receiving all power, including the ATX5VAUX, so either unplug the ATX power connector at J18, switch off the ATX power supply, or unplug the ATX power supply) before the interaction between the XPORT, the Actel FPGA, and the ATX power supply will behave correctly.

CPLD Configuration

A Xilinx CPLD (U54) provides secondary I/O for the PowerPC, including interfaces for boot settings. Once the Actel is powered and the ATX power supply can be switched on, the CPLD is next in the configuration sequence. The CPLD is configured using the Xilinx Parallel IV programming cable and the iMPACT software. On early revisions of the ROACH board (v1.00, v1.01), the CPLD has a dedicated JTAG connector (J22). Starting with board ROACH v1.02, both Xilinx chips (U15 and U54) are cascaded on a single JTAG scan chain from connector J24.

The CPLD is configured using a JEDEC configuration bitstream (roach_cpld.jed).

PowerPC U-Boot Configuration

To get the PowerPC running, the processor must first be initialized so a bootloader can be loaded into its nonvolatile memory. This is done using a Macraigor usbWiggler USB JTAG debugger and OCD Commander software, which connects to the PowerPC's JTAG port P1. OCD Commander will load the program.mac macro to force the PowerPC to configure its serial port to 115200-8N1 and initialize its 16kB of on-chip memory.

The macro will put the PowerPC's program counter in the right place (0x71000000) and prepares it to receive data. The U-Boot binary uboot.bin is transferred to the PowerPC using the serial_ptys process to implement the XMODEM protocol over a serial port connection from the test computer to P2. The data is written to the on-board Spansion flash memory (U42).

With U-Boot loaded into flash memory, the PowerPC will be able to boot at powerup and present a simple user interface that is accessible through the serial port P2.

PowerPC BORPH Configuration

Once U-Boot is loaded and running, the PowerPC is also capable of loading and running a basic BORPH Linux. U-Boot is prepared for booting Linux by first setting network and memory parameters. The serial_ptys process is again used to establish a serial port connection to the PowerPC from the test computer. This emulates user interaction with the U-Boot shell. The test script uses this connection to set a MAC address for the PowerPC's 10/100/1000 Ethernet interface (U58, J25) as an environment variable in U-Boot. It also sets an environment variable containing memory mapping information for booting Linux. These environment variables are stored with U-Boot in flash memory.

With a MAC address available from U-Boot, the PowerPC should be able to bring up its Ethernet interface. A functional network interface on the ROACH board will allow a DHCP server to start on the test computer, which then assigns a dynamic IP address to the PowerPC. At this point, a TFTP server needs to be running on the test computer's network connection. Using the serial port, the test computer will cause the PowerPC to request a TFTP transfer of the kernel image uImage. Upon successful transfer, the test script will have the PowerPC to erase a sector of flash memory and copy the kernel image to flash. It then requests a TFTP transfer of the filesystem image romfs, which is also copied to flash after transfer.

If all the environment variables are correctly set and the Linux images properly TFTP'd and written to flash, the ROACH board will be issued a software reset, causing the PowerPC to reboot and boot into BORPH Linux.

FPGA Configuration and Testing

At this point, the configuration of the Mon/Man and PowerPC subsystems is complete, and the testing of the FPGA components can commence. The board is reset again and BORPH loading is interrupted so that the PowerPC boots into U-Boot. The PowerPC's network interface is also started and tries to request an IP address from the test computer's DHCP server.

At this point a USB memory key with FPGA test bitstream roach_bsp.bin must be inserted into USB port P6. The serial interface is used to run a test sequence preloaded in the U-Boot image. The test sequence first tests components on the PowerPC subsystem:

  • Serial port connection (P2)
  • Proper configuration and communication with the CPLD (U54)
  • PowerPC DDR2 DRAM access (J8)
  • Flash memory access (U42)
  • USB communication (P6) by trying to read roach_bsp.bin
  • SelectMAP communication between PowerPC and FPGA
  • MMC socket (J17) via I/O on the CPLD (U54)
  • PowerPC Ethernet interface (U58 and J25) by trying to request an IP address on DHCP and initiate a TFTP transfer of blank file tftpfile.img

Most of the above tests are redundant; if the board configuration has completed successfully up to this point, then only the USB, SelectMAP, and MMC interfaces are untested.

The SelectMAP interface communication between the PowerPC and FPGA is tested by attempting to program the test bitstream from the USB key onto the FPGA (U15). This interface also allows the PowerPC to interact with the FPGA, which initiates tests on the FPGA and reads back the results.

The test sequence then uses the FPGA bitstream to test the following components attached to the FPGA:

  • FPGA DDR2 DRAM (J15)
  • QDRII+ SRAM 0 (U63)
  • QDRII+ SRAM 1 (U17)
  • ADC 0 (Z-DOK+ interface P5; connectivity check via loopback tester)
  • ADC 1 (Z-DOK+ interface P7; connectivity check via loopback tester)
  • 10GbE 0 (P3)
  • 10GbE 1 (P3)
  • 10GbE 2 (P3)
  • 10GbE 3 (P3)
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