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Xilinx FPGAs enable advanced telematics platforms

Posted: 03 Nov 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:xilinx? spartan-3e? virtex-4? fpga? pld?

Xilinx's Virtex-4 platform FPGA

Xilinx Inc. renews its commitment to the automotive industry with the inclusion of its low-cost Spartan-3e family and high-performance Virtex-4 platform FPGA devices in the company's Xilinx Automotive (XA) product family of PLDs. "The XA family was introduced a year ago and the addition of these two devices shows our continued goal of introducing product offerings for the automotive environment," said David Gamba, marketing director for vertical markets at Xilinx.

The low-cost Spartan-3e XA FPGA is a 100,000 system gate device priced at $3 that comes with microblaze 32bit soft processor solutions and supports 18 common I/O standards, including PCI, RSDS and mini-LVDS, as well as interfaces to commodity-priced DDR memories. These built-in features reduce the need for discrete devices, which lowers overall system cost. "Prior to this chip, we announced a 50,000-gate device last year priced at $4.50," Gamba said, claiming that the Spartan-3e chip delivers the lowest cost per system gate in the industry.

Meanwhile, the Virtex-4 FX12 XA devices are high-performance automotive PLDs that each contain an embedded PowerPC 32bit RISC processor, DSP multipliers and 10/100/1,000 Ethernet MAC blocks in the Virtex-4 ASMBL architecture. These features enable high-performance embedded systems or complex control functions and allow for high-speed uploads of new or updated software into the board, module or system design.

"Our Virtex-4 is the first high-performance FPGA. Mostly, we have been introducing low-cost FPGAs; this is the first time our customers have said they were willing to pay extra for the performance," Gamba said.

"These devices are the same silicon and packaging as our standard devices. What makes them different is the qualification we put them throughspecifically, for automotive," Gamba said, "We take our standard XC components and put them through additional qualifications for the automotive industry such as extended temperature and stress testing." Key standards for automotive are ISO 9001, TS 16949, ISO 14001 and the AEC-Q100, with which the Spartan-3e and Virtex-4 FX12 devices comply.

Advanced applications

Gamba said that Xilinx's XA devices have seen the most use in automotive infotainment and driver-assistance systems, which are tied together by the in-vehicle network or gateway system. Some emerging applications in telematics platforms include adaptive cruise control, collision warning and lane warninga lot of which are moving from being laser-based to camera-based systems.

"As soon as you use cameras, you're looking at higher requirements for signal-processing capabilities," said Gamba. "Our Spartan-3e and Virtex-4 devices can do parallel signal processing. Instead of using multiple DSPs in an array, you can use just one of our devices to do parallel signal processing."

Xilinx believes that the Asian region figures very strongly in the automotive market. "We're seeing some of the newer class of applications taking hold in Asia," Gamba said. One example of an application we may be seeing a few years out is active occupant detection. Such systems are currently based on a passenger's weight, which is used to adjust the settings for airbag deployment in the event of a crash. Now, designers are moving to a more sophisticated system that uses cameras; in addition to weight, the system will know an individual's height and position at the time of impact, making for more specific airbag deployment.

"Our new devices are capable of supporting these applications and engineers are using them today for designing such applications. They'll hit the market in a few years because our devices enable very short design cycles, but putting them through the necessary automotive qualification and certification takes some time," Gamba said.

Asked to name some customers who have deployed the Spartan-3e and Virtex-4 devices, Gamba said that Xilinx has publicly announced their use in a Microsoft Telematics Platform by Fiat. This platform provides driving direction, traffic reports and vehicle maintenance, and it's a voice-command, hands-free system. "But a car is very noisyyou may have a radio turned on or there may be other people in the car. Our Spartan-3e device performs echo cancellation and noise reduction for filtering so that the voice commands are recognized by the system," said Gamba.

Xilinx also offers it customers more stability with its LogiCore IP solution optimized for XA devices. Its automotive-specific IP offerings include CAN, MOST, and LIN and FlexRay reference designs. "For networked IP, we don't want customers to rely on their third-party partnerswe want Xilinx to own that," Gamba said. These IP solutions are fully tested and verified, conforming to ISO 1198-1 CAN 2.0A and CAN 2.0B standards.

- Selena Salang
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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