Xilinx Offers App-Specific Tool Bundles in ISE Design Suite Rev 11.1

Submitted by BDTI on Wed, 05/20/2009 - 18:00

In February when Xilinx announced its new Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 families, the company also discussed its intention to provide more domain-oriented development tools and development paradigms. In April the company began to make good on its promise by announcing domain-specific tool bundles as part of its new release of the ISE Design Suite, Rev 11.1.

The new suite comprises four “editions” of the tools: logic, digital signal processing, embedded processing, and system-level design. Each edition includes domain-specific tools and IP that are intended to provide a design flow that’s better tailored to the needs of the target application domain—and to the relevant engineering skill set. ISE Design Suite Editions are shown in Table 1.

 

Edition

Target Domain/User

Components

Logic Edition

Baseline tool suite; intended for general FPGA-based design and implementation

  • All tools needed for design, pin assignment, synthesis, verification, implementation, floor planning, bitstream generation, and programming.
  • Simulator
  • Base-level IP

DSP Edition

Tailored for DSP algorithm, system, and hardware developers

  • All tools and IP in the Logic Edition
  • System Generator for DSP
  • AccelDSP Synthesis Tool
  • DSP-specific IP

Embedded Edition

Tailored for designers incorporating embedded processors in their designs

  • All tools and IP  in the Logic Edition
  • Embedded Development Kit (EDK) with the Platform Studio
  • Embedded-specific IP, including the MicroBlaze soft  processor

System Edition

Includes full support for implementing logic, DSP, and embedded processing

  • Everything included in the Logic, DSP, and Embedded editions

 

In addition to bundling the tools into domain-specific packages, Xilinx has made a wide variety of improvements to the efficiency, ease-of-use, and performance of the tools. Performance and efficiency improvements include faster place-and-route (2X, according to Xilinx), reduced dynamic power consumption in FPGA designs (by ~10%), reduced memory footprint of FPGA designs (by about 30%) and faster synthesis.  

A few of the many new features include support for FLEXnet licensing, which allows the tools to be shared by multiple users on a network via floating licenses, and support for dual hard and/or soft processor core development from within the Base System Builder (BSB). According to Xilinx, inter-tool communication has also been improved to enable a more efficient design flow between base and domain-specific tools.

Initially, the tools will support Virtex-5 and Spartan-3 FPGA families. Support for Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 is available via an early access program, with general tool support for these families expected in Release 11.2.

There are expanding opportunities for FPGAs in a wide range of applications, but a key impediment to their more widespread adoption has been their historically time-consuming and difficult development paradigm. Making tools and tool flows domain-specific is one reasonable way to simplify complex design problems.  By offering domain-specific tools, Xilinx is hoping to attract a wider range of embedded engineers and system designers, and capture sockets that might otherwise be ceded to more traditional processing engines.  The new tool bundles are a modest, but meaningful, step in that direction.

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