Electronics > FPGA

Running Xilinx Vivado HLS from in the Cloud - Can it be done?

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My computer is not fast enough to run the Xilinx Vivado HLS toolset.

This means that I have to buy a new and more powerful computer.
Doing a rough calculation I would have to spend between 1000-1500 USD to get a decent setup that is future proof in the years to come.

But I was thinking about a different solution, given that we are 2016 now.
Can the Xilinx Vivado HLS toolset be run from the Cloud, still having access to USB, Ethernet and other necessary ports locally to connect my Xilinx target board (e.g. Xilinx Zybo FPGA board)?

The plan is to run the IDE from a virtual desktop, have access to all the necessary physical ports, but rely on the (massive) horsepower provided by the Cloud architecture on which the actual toolset is installed.

Ideally Xilinx should provide pre-installed Cloud instances for this, to speed up the process.
Why haven't they already thought about that? We are 2016 now... the era of Cloud computing.

Hard to imagine that all Xilinx Vivado users have to spend $$$ on new computer architectures ranging from a desktop Intel Pentium i7 powered computer to a server rack with multiple Intel Xeon processors.

Xilinx.. where are you and the Cloud? What about that strategic partnership with Microsoft (Azure) or Amazon (AWS EC2)?

If it's just for compilation, simulation and development there should be no problem. Ethernet ports might be possible via some creative IP routing, but the USB and similar (COM ports) are a different matter in my opinion.

You could probably get away with running the programmer, debugger and such locally and do the 'heavy lifting' in the cloud.

If you want to try it out, Amazon provides some cloud services for free for a limited time: https://aws.amazon.com/free/

Most FPGA toolchains include some kind of server functionality to make JTAG programmers available on the network. Xilinx does so as well. http://www.beyond-circuits.com/wordpress/2015/01/remote-jtag-with-vivado/ You just need to setup some kind of tunnel like SSH.

I can really recommend tigervnc as a remote desktop solution: good latency, headless X11 server changes resolution as you resize the vncviewer window. When going fullscreen on the client and having multiple screens connected, the server knows multiple screens as well.

I really believe that active partnerships between an EDA toolset vendor and a Cloud provider makes sense for the educational market.

If I only had some decision power in this segment, I would make pre-configured instances of EDA toolset Cloud workhorses, where all these challenges in terms of installation, configuration, licenses, and physical port routing and tunneling are solved upfront.

It seems so straightforward and basic common sense, still it doesn't exist yet.

I am not talking only about Xilinx Vivado here. They could add all relevant software into the Cloud that covers an entire Electrical Engineering and Computer Science curriculum.

No hazzle with local installation and configuration issues. Moreover licensing fees could be included and bundled with the overall monthly Cloud service fees.

Distributed compilation is quite common in the software world, it would make sense in the hardware world. Not only do we have compilers that distribute the job to other computers on the network to do the work, there are tools such as Atlassian Bamboo that offload the entire build process.

As someone who as worked at a hardware company that provided software tools, the general mindset is generally very conservative and slow to change. Vivado using TCL is a simple example of that.

Rather than run the IDE on the cloud, maybe see if you can get the backend engine running there instead. I expect it would take quite a bit of hacking unless you can get Xilinx support to take you seriously.

No way to just upgrade CPUs instead of replace the entire computer?


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