This problem is related with debugging an FPGA design implemented in Intel/Altera FPGA.
A custom debug mechanism has been introduced into the design. This new part of the design writes into a FIFO when certain events occur during design operation. The data exchanged and the events that caused this exchange are stored in this FIFO. The FIFO is then read by a Nios II. After some basic processing (check what is contained in the data), the Nios prints out a trace to a JTAG UART. This trace describes what events are occuring as the design operates and the value of the data moving from one part of the design to another. A Nios terminal runs on the computer to print the messages on the screen.
Using signal tap, system console or any other method is not possible as the events in the system and the data moving from one place to another must be presented in a human readable form over several seconds of design operation.
Now here is the problem. It seems that the calls to printf are too slow. The FIFO soon overflows and when this happens, information about many events that occured does not get written into the FIFO. The data rate into the FIFO cannot be predicted as it is not filled at a constant rate. Increasing the FIFO depth or increasing the depth of the buffer in the JTAG UART is not sufficient. Using alt_printf or some other form of optimization also does not fix the problem.
Since printf with JTAG UART is too slow, what alternatives exist? Since this is not a development board but a custom PCB, I do not have many pins available to use for debug purpose. There are many possibilities of course.
The trace looks like this:
MSG 0 DL
MSG 0 UL
DATA1 3200 DATA2 350
MSG 1 DL
MSG 0 DL
MSG 3 UL
DATA1 400 DATA2 100
MSG 10 DL
Please note that the above is a very oversimplified view but you get the idea.