Setting up a Linux-based FPGA Compile Worker

Publish Date: Jun 05, 2018 | 4 Ratings | 2.00 out of 5 | Print | 2 Customer Reviews | Submit your review

Overview

The NI LabVIEW FPGA Module, along with standard NI reconfigurable I/O (RIO) hardware, has made field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) more accessible to engineers and scientists for a decade. However, FPGA programmers industry-wide know that one difficulty with FPGA technology is overcoming the processor-intensive task of synthesizing, placing, and routing an FPGA design, which results in compile times that can last minutes to hours. Selecting an appropriate Linux-based compile system may reduce your compile times. The following section outlines how to use the Linux-based FPGA compile worker along with the LabVIEW 2012 FPGA Module and later, either through National Instrument’s compile service or through your own hardware setup. Note: For access to the latest hardware using a Linux operating system without any installation or maintenance required at your office, consider using the NI LabVIEW FPGA Compile Cloud Service.

Table of Contents

  1. LabVIEW FPGA Compile System Overview
  2. Requirements
  3. Offloading One Compile at a Time
  4. Offloading Multiple Compiles at a Time

1. LabVIEW FPGA Compile System Overview

National Instruments architected the LabVIEW FPGA compile system with three fundamental software components, which results in a modular, scalable compile solution. The compile system is split into three parts: the development computer, the compile server, and any number of compile workers. 

LabVIEW FPGA Module Development Environment —The LabVIEW development environment that you are familiar with is where you create your application. Clicking Run on your FPGA VI completes the generating intermediate files step (see LabVIEW FPGA Compilation Process for more information). After generation, the development computer sends the intermediate files through web services communication to the compile server.

Compile Server—The compile server accepts compile jobs from one or many LabVIEW FPGA development systems and looks for available compile workers to farm out compile jobs to. If no compile workers are available, the compile server holds the compile job in a queue until a compile worker becomes available.

Compile Worker—The compile worker has the Xilinx compilation tools installed for FPGA design synthesis, mapping, placing, and routing. With these tools, a compile worker implements the design and generates a bitfile. The compile worker sends the bitfile back to the compile server, which, in turn, sends the bitfile back to the development computer.

 

Figure 1. The LabVIEW FPGA compile system architecture includes three parts: the development computer, the compile server, and the compile worker(s). The compile server functionality may run on the development computer or on separate computer.

 

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2. Requirements

Installation Media – The installation process requires the Xilinx compilation tools DVD, found in your FPGA kit. If you did not receive this DVD with your purchase, you can download the installation materials online. Refer to this support document to determine which Xilinx compilation tools you need in order to compile on your operating system with your hardware.

Dedicated Computer – A computer with a minimum of 8GB of RAM per core. 

Note: Faster hard drives or solid state disks do not add significant gains to remote compile speeds. When selecting a computer to run remote compiles on Linux, select for high CPU speed over number of cores.

64-bit Linux OS – Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or CentOS. Refer to the readme for your Xilinx Compilation Tools for the specific version required. 

Familiarity with Linux – Installing and configuring the Linux compile worker does not require advanced Linux knowledge. However, you should have some familiarity with Linux.

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3. Offloading One Compile at a Time

 

For small development teams, consider offloading compiles to a single Linux computer. The following image represents the computers and software necessary for two developers to offload their compiles to the Linux compile worker.

Note: In this example, though two development computers can communicate with the Linux compile worker, only one can offload a compile at one time. 

Installation Overview

LabVIEW FPGA Development Computer (Compile Server)

    1. LabVIEW
    2. LabVIEW FPGA Module

Linux Compile Worker

Xilinx Compilation Tools

Setting up the Computers

LabVIEW FPGA Development Computer (Compile Server)

  1. Select Start>>National Instruments>> FPGA>> FPGA Compile Server Configuration to launch the FPGA compile server configuration dialog box.
  2. Place a checkmark in the Allow users to connect remotely to this compile server checkbox and click OK.

  1. Ensure that your firewall settings permit other computers to request information from this computer.

If the Linux compile worker connects to the Windows computer, the compile appears in the Status field in the compile worker window.

Note: In Linux, closing the compile worker window closes the program.

Linux Compile Worker

  1. Select Applications >>National Instruments >>Compile Worker.

  1. Click Configure to launch the Configure Compile Worker dialog box.
  2. In the Hostname field, enter the name of the computer configured as the compile server. In this example, WindowsMachine1 is the compile server.

Testing Your Setup

When you initiate a compile using any configured Windows computer, the compile appears in the Status field in the compile worker window.

If you receive an error or are unable to connect to the compile worker, follow these steps on your development computer:

  1. Open the Windows Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) >> Processes and look for a CompileWorker process. Click on the CompileWorker process and then click End Process.
  2. In LabVIEW, select Tools >>Options>> FPGA Module>>Use local compile server. Remove the checkmark from the Prompt to select a compile server for each compilation checkbox. Click OK.
  3. Try to compile your VI. The job first looks for a local compile worker. Failing that, the job uses the remote Linux compile worker.

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4. Offloading Multiple Compiles at a Time

For larger teams, offload compiles to a farm of multiple Linux computers. The following image represents the computers and software necessary for multiple developers to offload their compiles to a Linux compile farm.

Installation Overview

LabVIEW FPGA Compile Farm Server

Linux Compile Workers

Xilinx Compilation Tools

Setting up the Computers

LabVIEW FPGA Compile Farm Server

  1. Install the FPGA Compile Farm Server. For more information, refer to Getting Started with the LabVIEW FPGA Compile Farm Toolkit.
    Note: With LabVIEW 2013 FPGA Module and earlier, use the NI LabVIEW FPGA Compile Farm Toolkit.
  2. Ensure that your firewall settings permit other computers to request information from this computer.

LabVIEW FPGA Development Computers

Configure LabVIEW FPGA to compile to the FPGA Compile Farm Server. For more information about configuring LabVIEW compile servers, refer to the Configure Remote Compile Server Dialog Box topic in the LabVIEW FPGA Module Help.

Linux Compile Workers

Refer to the instructions for configuring a Linux Compile Worker under Offloading One Parallel Compile at a Time.

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Customer Reviews
2 Reviews | Submit your review

Where is the download link for   - Aug 21, 2012

It mentions that for the Linux compile worker, the "Additional Xilinx Tools DVD, is found in your FPGA kit. If you did not receive this DVD with your purchase, you can download the installation materials online." Can you post a link where this can be downloaded? I can't find it.

Supported Linux distros  - Aug 8, 2012

What Linux distros are supported?

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