Design tool for DO-254-based complex airborne electronics hardware design introduced by The MathWorks and Mentor Graphics

Posted by John Keller

NATICK, Mass., 24 March 2010. The MathWorks in Natick, Mass., and Mentor Graphics in Wilsonville, Ore., are working together to provide guidance on an integrated workflow for compliance to the RTCA/DO-254 design assurance guidance for airborne electronics hardware standard using model-based design.

DO-254 is recognized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a means for designing complex electronic hardware like field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), programmable logic devices (PLDs), and application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) in avionics systems. The DO-254 standard is the counterpart to the RTCA DO-178B/EUROCAE ED-12B standard for software in safety-critical systems.

The two companies are combining tools from The MathWorks and Mentor Graphics to support model-based design throughout all stages of development, including requirements definition and management, conceptual and detailed design, implementation, and testing.

Using this integrated workflow, aerospace engineers can verify designs early, implement in HDL quickly, reuse design and verification, and more manage requirements and test cases.

In the new DO-254 workflow, engineers begin with the Mentor Graphics ReqTracer to collect and manage requirements. From the requirements, an executable Simulink model helps develop and explore a conceptual design including implementation details such as fixed-point effects.

Model blocks can be linked directly to requirements in ReqTracer to ensure traceability. Using verification and validation tools from The MathWorks, engineers can then perform functional testing and formal analysis at the conceptual model level.

These design and verification capabilities allow engineers to ensure that the conceptual design is fully tested, traceable to requirements, and meets all necessary requirements. From this fully tested model, a detailed design in HDL can be automatically generated with Simulink HDL Coder.

From this stage onward, Mentor Graphics HDL Designer provides the primary environment for additional HDL development, code checking, code visualizations, and reviews. Further verification of the detailed HDL design can be performed in the Mentor Graphics verification environment, leveraging the test vectors created at the model level, using tools such as ModelSim and Questa.

Formal analysis is supported by 0-In Formal Verification, for HDL model checking, and FormalPro, for logical equivalency checking. FPGA synthesis and integration with FPGA vendor place and route tools is accomplished by Precision RTL Plus. All verification results and synthesis constraint settings generated throughout the entire flow can be traced back to design and verification requirements using ReqTracer.

More information on adopting model-based design for DO-254 certification with MathWorks tools is online at www.mathworks.com/do-254. The Mentor Graphics DO-254 approach is detailed online at www.mentor.com/go/do-254. An online whitepaper in .pdf format explains the joint workflow.

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