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How many computers?
Natalie M. Jan 29, 2016 at 12:18 PM (12:18 hours)
Staff: Takao Y.

  • I am trying to figure out how many computers I should order.  I would like to use the Multilink or Cyclone to program 12 PCB's at the same time.  How many Multilink's or Cyclone's can be used on a computer at one time?  Is there a max allowed?  I am looking at 9-12 separate programmers running simultaneously.


  • Greetings,

    I think there are 3 setups that are popular and suggested:

    1) No computers, no software, just cyclones, a technician on each cyclone (medium to high production, a few projects)

    The cyclones can be loaded with images that have all the binary files, settings, and commands to program a chip. Unless you need to change the images on the cyclone constantly, you should be fine running this setup. This is the most popular setup for production lines, especially if they are only programming one specific board. Technicians just press a button, wait for it to be done, then switch boards. You will need to preload the cyclones, so an engineer or trained technician is needed to learn how to do that.

    2) 1 computer, 1 software, just cyclones, 1 engineer, a few technicians (High production, automation and control, many projects)

    You could have one computer with the cyclone automated control package software and be able to control all of the cyclones remotely. This makes it easy to execute flash programming simultaneously. You can also then use our UNIT Libraries to run tests and calibrations on each unit. However when done, you may want technicians to plug/unplug the new target to each cyclone.

    3) A multilink, a PROG software, a computer, and a technician for each station (low production, slowest speed)

    The "cheapest" solution but I put that in quotes because you do need a computer per station. The multilinks are cheaper than cyclones, but multilinks do not come with software. And you need some kind of software to run the multilinks. We sell PROG software that can be used per machine. Our license agreement is one license is single-user, single seat. So you would need to buy a license for every computer.

    Technically you could have one computer with multiple multilinks, but you still need to buy the right number of software licenses. The difficulty here is knowing which multilinks are done programming and which are not. You should avoid this setup so you do not end up shipping a board with nothing programmed on it.

    Let me know which setup sounds the best for your setup and I can go into detail which hardware and software to get....unless you already have some.

    Takao Yamada

  • In Option #2, can Cyclone Automated Control Package software be controlled with command line or labview?  Is there a limit to how many Cyclones are controlled by this software?  Can you describe more 'However when done, you may want technicians to plug/unplug the new target to each cyclone' ?

  • Greetings,

    Yes, the cyclone automated control package is a DLL with an API so you can create your own program or use something like LabView to execute commands. Many customers have gotten that to work. We have a basic edition you can use to try out to see if this is something you want to try, but note that it can only load one image and onto one cyclone.

    Purchase the professional edition and the limit is up to 3 cyclones, but the enterprise edition gives you unlimited cyclones. More details here:

    After flash programming the chip, the board is still attached to the cyclone on the production line. Unless you just want to program the same board over and over, you will need someone to switch out the target boards so there are new ones attached to the cyclones. I guess you could have the engineer get up and do it, but having a few technicians switching out boards is probably easy to manage.

    Takao Yamada

  • Greetings,

    May I ask, which chip you plan on programming? We currently have many flavors of cyclones and I would want to suggest the right one for your project. If you plan on programming many different chip architectures, please let me know as well.

    Takao Yamada

  • Will be using S08 and S12.  There are about 6 codes for the S08 and 6 codes for the S12.

  • Greetings,

    Then the cyclone pro is probably a good solution. This unit supports both chip architectures you have mentioned. It can even provide power to your target so you do not have to set up external power sources. The problem is that internal flash of the cyclone is limited and will only load up to 8 projects/images. You may need to purchase a compact flash card to extend the memory capacity. The flash cards have no image limitation, just size limitation of 2GB, which is plenty of space. However, the cyclone pro will go out of production probably by end of this year (2016):

    If you do not need to load all 12 project/images onto the same cyclone at all times, then you do not need to purchase an external card. You can erase and replace images however you wish. If that is the case, I may even suggest our newest release of cyclone universal. The cyclone pro is going out of production to make way for our new generation cyclones. It has the same features of the cyclone pro, but it has a touch-screen, and more chip architecture support for future proofing your production line. It will be our flagship unit for many year to come. If you think you will be using our product many years in the future, this is the unit you should welcome. But it has the same limitation of 8 image/projects internally, but it does not have any external memory capabilities:

    That should give you some more reading material. Let me know if you have more questions.

    Takao Yamada

  • What is the main difference between the cyclone_universal and the cyclone_universal_FX?  Can I use the FX for this application?

  • Also, will the Cyclone Automated Control Package Enterprise Edition be the only software that I will need to purchase?  Will I still need to purchase PROGHCs08 and the PROGS12 software to program the 2 microcontrollers?

  • Greetings,

    If you get a cyclone, you do NOT need to purchase a PROG software because it is already included in the software package you get with the cyclone.

    Right now, the cyclone universal is available, while the cyclone universal FX will not be in full release until probably mid-spring of this year.

    The main difference is going to be security. We will be giving the user full confidence that the cyclone can be shipped off to other countries and they will not be able to extract data or intellectual property off of the cyclone or during the programming process. You can also lock the unit from allowing others from erasing and using the unit for their own uses.

    Other differences are increased capacity by including a port for SD cards so you can have more than just 8 images on each cyclone. There is also a host micro USB port that can be used to attach a keyboard or barcode scanner to allow more automated functions like program unique keys/serial numbers to each target device by scanning a barcode. We are still thinking up more features that will make the production programming more powerful and secure.

    Just go back to the cyclone universal page and you can see anything that says "FX Only" is what the differences will be:

    If you going to purchase the cyclone pro instead of the new generation cyclones, then you may need to purchase a Compact flash card and a license to use the compact flash card. This allows you to expand past the 8 image limit on the older cyclones. This license is ONLY for older cyclones:

    Takao Yamada

  • I have a question about the cyclone's.  I know that the multilinks need to have a connector with a length of less than 10cm for connecting to the DUT, how about the cyclone?  Is there a minimum length for the programming wires?

  • Greetings,

    Similar issues will arise in Cyclones as well. You can have longer cables but you will have to shield them properly and you may need to reduce the communication speed, if the option is available (normally called "bdm shift speed").

    Takao Yamada

  • Is there suggestions for proper shielding or recommendations? Any suggestions for wire thickness as well?

  • Greetings,

    Well, most USB or Ethernet cables have shielding. What some people have done is use the pins of a USB or Ethernet cable for most of the length of the wiring and on each end solder your own short wires to make the proper connections.

    If you need to use your own wire setup, you can carefully cut the shielding of a USB or Ethernet cable with an exacto knife and reuse the shielding on your own cables. Another option I saw on was shielding foil you can purchase that you can easily wrap around your cables. What we are doing is reducing any noise that happens due to increased length, so thickness is not as important.

    Takao Yamada

  • Thank you!

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