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Xilinx challenges Altera's Stratix

Posted: 03 Jun 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pld? fpga? programmable logic? virtex-ii pro? hard ip?

Xilinx Senior Director of Product Solutions Marketing Babak Hedayati: Virtex-II Pro takes advantage of existing software.
When Altera Corp. announced its new Stratix line of devices earlier this year, it claimed that the new programmable architecture will help it overtake archrival Xilinx Inc.

This must have made someone at Xilinx to sit up. The company almost promptly came up with an answer: the Virtex-II Pro. Xilinx made it a point to release three devices-XC2VP4, XC2VP7 and XC2VP20-in a product family whose samples were available immediately with volume pricing to begin in 2004.

"The industry is moving toward digital convergenceconvergence of various industries, such as computing, networking, telecom and video imaging, which used to exist in their own separate worlds," said Babak Hedayati, senior director of product solutions marketing at Xilinx. "What is really required for a smooth transition is convergence to take place at the device level."

Xilinx's increased focus at the system level, according to Hedayati, is manifested in the Virtex-II Pro, which is integrating up to four embedded PowerPCs running at 300MHz and delivering 420 DMIPS, up to 16 3.125Gbps serial transceivers and is supporting all major connectivity standards.

IP immersion

Also noteworthy is Xilinx's IP Immersion technology used for embedding the PowerPC blocks. The technology allows "immersion" of hard IP blocks directly into logic and memory arrays. "If you look at the wafer, you won't see the PowerPC because it is covered by layers of connectivity of the FPGA," said Hedayati. "The core does not sit next to the FPGA fabric but is embedded inside it. This increases the efficiency of interconnections between the embedded core and the FPGA fabric, and therefore performance."

The device family is supported by a tool chain that includes the Automatic System Generator. The system generator allows a designer to automatically generate hardware and software components, connecting IP cores to the CoreConnect processor bus, generating a customized board support package, and performing rule and consistency check. The Virtex-II Pro also enables re-partitioning between hardware and software during definition, debug and after-shipment.

Another shift for Xilinx is in the marketing approach. "We are trying to address the corporation as a whole instead of just among the engineers," said Hedayati. "Corporations have to deal with changes that are occurring due to this convergence of technology as well as changing economic conditions. There is tremendous pressure to reduce capital expenditures, recover quickly from the investments made, reduce the risk of inventory, and rapidly customize and regionalize. So we are targeting various levels in a corporation, from the engineer looking for performance to the executives aiming to achieve [above-mentioned] objectives."

Comparing the Startix with the Virtex-II Pro, Hedayati said that while Xilinx's new device is revolutionary in the sense it brought together various technologies in way that might be expected from the likes of Intel and TI, it is still an enhancement over the Virtex-II. "Since it is not a completely new architecture, it can take advantage of an existing robust software support. What's more, we are not replacing our previous devices, but improving upon them," he added.

? Vivek Nanda

Electronic Engineering Times ? Asia

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