Opal-RT Launches New FPGA-based Reconfigurable I/O and FPGA Development System Integrated with Simulink and RT-LAB

Oct 12, 2010, 11:46 ET from Opal-RT Technologies Inc.

MONTREAL, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Opal-RT Technologies (www.opal-rt.com), the leading developer of open Real-Time Simulators and HIL testing systems for electrical, mechanical and fast-switching power electronic systems, today introduced new additions to the company's OP5000 family of FPGA-based I/O and signal conditioning hardware.

These new products include:

  • OP5142 Reconfigurable FPGA-based I/O Controller, powered by the Xilinx SPARTAN-3 FPGA processor
  • RT-XSG, toolbox for generating custom models for implementation on FPGA devices
  • RT-LAB FPGA Development System

The launch of these high-performance FPGA development products coincides with the introduction of RT-LAB 10, the latest version of the core technology behind the company's flagship Real-Time Simulator products including eDRIVEsim, eMEGAsim, eFLYsim and the TestDrive ECU Tester. RT-LAB is the open Real-Time Simulation software environment that has revolutionized the way Model-based Design is performed.

"One of Opal-RT's R&D objectives has always been to develop Real-Time Simulator products that are versatile enough to use with any application, enabling high-fidelity simulation of even the fastest switching power electronics, connected to physical hardware-in-the-loop," said Jean Belanger, Opal-RT's CEO and Co-Founder. "The introduction of these new FPGA-based I/O controllers and the enhancements to the RT-XSG modeling environment with floating point capability will enable engineers to develop higher quality and more reliable power electronic devices, especially for mission critical applications in transportation, distributed power generation, micro grids and industrial automation."

OP5142 Reconfigurable FPGA-based I/O Controller

The OP5142 Reconfigurable FPGA-based I/O Controller enables distributed execution of Hardware Description Language (HDL) functions and high-speed, high-density digital I/O in real-time models. The OP5142 is optimized for Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulation applications, and specifically designed for use with Opal-RT's full line of Real-Time Simulator products.

The OP5142 combines the power of the largest SPARTAN-3 FPGA chip with low-latency PCI Express-based communication links, INTEL or AMD multicore processors, Opal-RT's RT-LAB parallel distributed computer platform and Simulink. The use of the SPARTAN-3 FPGA processor has enabled a number of enhancements including the support of more than 128 analog 16-bit converter or 250 discrete I/O channels.

Communication latency with the simulator's main system processor is also improved. The gain of the OP5142 is as much as two to three times faster than standard PCI-based boards. Minimum latency is reduced well below 10 microseconds through the use of a PCI-Express link that facilitates the connection of multiple OP5142 I/O Controllers, while maintaining a very high transfer rate. Unlike other existing simulator architectures, the PCI- Express link is used as a switch and not as a conventional parallel bus. As a result, the PCI Express switch enables the implementation of large simulators equipped with 8 to 24 CPU cores and over two thousand I/O channels, while achieving simulation time-steps below 50 microseconds; a level of performance not previously possible on a PC platform. This feature is particularly important for users developing electrical applications using the RT-XSG 2.0 toolbox, as well as SimPowerSystems.

RT-LAB FPGA Development System

The RT-LAB FPGA Development System completes Opal-RT's offering of FPGA development solutions. The system includes the OP5431 Passive I/O Interface for the Virtex®-5 ML506 Evaluation Platform, which provides a standalone chassis that enables Opal-RT's OP53xx 16-bit fast analog-to-digital & digital-to-analog converters and discrete signal conditioning modules to interface with the Virtex®-5 ML506 Evaluation Platform. Custom models can be implemented by users and simulated on the ML506 FPGA platform in real-time with physical hardware-in-the-loop, via signal conditioning and conversion modules.

The ML506 is part of a family of FPGA development platforms manufactured by Xilinx Inc. ML506 includes a high-capacity, very-high speed FPGA reprogrammable device along with extended interface capability.

Development is now underway on Opal-RT modules which support the Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA processor.

RT-XSG Real-Time Model Programming on FPGA

RT-XSG, an important component of the RT-LAB FPGA Development System, enables engineers to generate custom, application specific models that can be implemented onto an FPGA device. Signal conditioning and conversion modules are also available that enable the custom model to be used for Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation.

One of the key features of RT-XSG is its full integration with RT-LAB and MATLAB/Simulink through a very fast PCI Express 2.5 Gbit/s bidirectional communication link. Models with multiple subsystems can be executed on multiple INTEL/AMD processor cores with time-steps as low as 7 microseconds, while subsystems can be executed on the FPGA devices at a time-step of 250 nanoseconds and can interface with fast I/O converters that are implemented using Simulink, Real-Time Workshop and Xilinx System Generator.

With the help of Xilinx's System Generator for DSP blockset, only minimal programmable logic technical knowledge is needed to use RT-XSG. This blockset is used to translate a Simulink design built using particular library blocks into HDL. This translated design is used by additional Opal-RT tools to provide access to fast I/O interfaces and debugging facilities.

In addition, standard and user-developed functions can be stored on on-board Flash memory for instant start-up. RT-LAB-compatible platforms can be remotely configured using a network-based utility. Additionally, all RT-XSG supported standalone products are configurable on-the-fly using a JTAG connection and the device vendor programming software.

RT-XSG enables update rates of 100 MHz on supported platforms, providing the capability to perform time stamped capture and generation of digital events for high precision switching of items, such as PWM I/O signaling up to very high frequencies.


The OP5142 Reconfigurable FPGA-based I/O Controller, RT-XSG 2.0 and the RT-LAB FPGA Development System are now available as options on all Opal-RT Real Time Simulator products.

About Opal-RT Technologies Inc.

Founded in 1997, Opal-RT is the leading developer of open Real-Time Digital Simulators and hardware-in-the-loop testing systems designed for use in the development and study of advanced electrical, mechanical and fast-switching power electronic systems. Opal-RT's unique approach integrates parallel, distributed computing with commercial-off-the-shelf technologies. Opal-RT's customers perform Rapid Control Prototyping, Real-Time Simulation, and Hardware-in-the-Loop testing of electric drives, electronic controllers and power systems used in manufacturing, electric train networks, and by electrical utilities. Companies using Opal-RT Simulators include ABB, BHEL, Denso, GE, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, GM and Toyota.

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