High-fidelity HIL modeling on FPGA is a now a reality made easy

Press Release from OPAL-RT TECHNOLOGIES Inc

January 22, 2014 - Montreal, Quebec

OPAL-RT worked on the first hybrid and electric vehicle designed by Toyota. At that time, we succeeded in simulating the electrical motor at 10µs, which was a technological breakthrough. This demanding challenge required to push real-time simulation on CPU to its limits.

Indeed, the main limitation of HIL simulation on CPU is the time required to transfer data between the I/Os and the CPU that are connected to the Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). Transfers pass through the PCIe bus, with data transfer times in the microseconds, therefore it wasn't possible to lower the timestep below a few microseconds.

" B y using the FPGA for the same process, we are now able to send data directly to the I/Os without needing to go through the PCIe bus, which enables a faster calculation step. This is why OPAL-RT pioneered real-time simulation on FPGA, being one of the few companies capable of addressing the challenges related to it, making possibilities of tests consequently endless ." Jean Belanger, OPAL-RT CEO & CTO.

Perfect for simulating power electronic systems such as photovoltaic grid-connected converters or electrical motor drives with FEA-based motor models, our eFPGAsim suite can be used for feasibility studies, protection, control system development and testing using hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) as well as power-hardware-in-the-loop (PHIL). This suite encompasses an FPGA based general purpose electromagnetic transient (EMT) solver implemented on an FPGA chip called eHS (electrical Hardware Solver), designed to accept and solve a variety of simulation problems on the FPGA using a simple circuit editor without complex VHDL programing. Time step below 500ns can be achieved for complex multi-level converter simulation. In addition, the release of RT-LAB XSG software provides the user with a state-of-the-art solution for advanced FPGA real-time and HIL system simulation of user developed models and control systems. Users generate custom application and specific models that can easily be implemented onto an FPGA device.

eFPGAsim also includes a suite of multi-modular voltage source converter (MMC) models capable of simulating up to 1500 MMC cells in 500 nanoseconds in a single FPGA chip including optical-fiber interfaces and the low-level controller. This level of performance is still out of the reach of competitors. FPGA models can also be interfaced with models subsystems running on multi-core INTEL processors with time step larger than 10µs, which is convenient to simulate complex micro-grid, distributed generation systems, and HVDC MMC grids.

Synonym of flexibility and simplicity, this suite is in line with the company's vision; to democratize real-time simulation. Thanks to our unique eHS solver, no advanced VHDL and FPGA knowledge is required; meaning that FPGA-based simulation is now accessible to control and simulate system specialists without requiring any FPGA programming skills.


OPAL-RT is a world leading developer of open, Real-Time Digital Simulators and Hardware-in-the-Loop testing equipment for electrical, electro-mechanical and power electronics systems. Our simulators are used by engineers and researchers at leading manufacturers, utilities, universities and research centers around the world.

Our unique technological approach integrates parallel, distributed computing with commercial-off-the-shelf technologies. Customers perform Rapid Control Prototyping, System Integration, and Hardware-in-the-Loop testing of electric drives, electronic controllers and power distribution networks in a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, electric ships, power generation, rail, and industrial manufacturing.

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