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Xilinx unveils next-gen embedded processing platform

Posted: 16 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded processing platform? MicroBlaze processor? Linux?

Xilinx Inc. has announced its next-generation Embedded Processing Solutions, promising design teams with enhanced system level performance, expanded flexibility and increased design environment productivity covering a broad range of applications.

Anchored by an enhanced 32-128bit Processor Local Bus (PLB), a component of the IBM CoreConnect bus standard, the platform delivers increased performance and scalability for future performance and feature requirements from Xilinx. The MicroBlaze 32bit processor includes a configurable Memory Management Unit (MMU), claimed to be the only one of its kind in the industry, that enables commercial-grade OS support and is supported by a host of upgraded IP and design tools delivered with the Embedded Development Kit (EDK) ver. 9.2.

In support of the full memory management capabilities, LynuxWorks also announced that its BlueCat Linux v2.6 support the MicroBlaze processor as well as the PowerPC 405 processor embedded in Virtex-4 FX devices.

MicroBlaze v7 processor
Version 7 of MicroBlaze processor builds upon previous versions while maintaining instruction set backward compatibility. With the new MMU, designers can use commercial-grade embedded OS when implementing their designs in both the Spartan family of low-cost FPGAs for high-volume applications, as well as the high-performance Virtex family. To enhance system performance in designs targeting Virtex devices optimized for embedded applications, a direct interface to the enhanced PLB is included to extend peripheral re-use with the on-board PowerPC processor.

Xilinx has also included new instructions to boost performance of the configurable MicroBlaze processor's tightly-coupled Floating Point Unit. All of these new features are pre-built, verified and ready to use with configuration options that enable developers to customize the processor features as required.

Enhancements to the PLB architecture enable scaling from 32-, 64- and 128bit interfaces to give designers more flexibility and performance that can be applied to current system designs while providing plenty of headroom for future designs. The PLB can also be configured for both shared and point-to-point connections to memory controllers, enabling customers to make the right design trade-offs based on area, performance or future requirements. The higher performance and more flexible interconnect also supports full duplex DMA engines and a simpler bus hierarchy for easier IP core design.

Comprehensive development environment
Xilinx's Platform Studio (XPS) provides a common, fully integrated hardware/software development environment that supports the complete range of Xilinx possessing solutions. Included in the EDK, the scalable XPS enables designers to easily develop, integrate and debug their entire embedded system.

The EDK is a complete embedded development solution that includes the XPS tool suite, the MicroBlaze processor, a library of peripheral IP cores, an integrated software development environment based on the Eclipse framework, GNU compiler, debugger and other tools for a wide range of applications.

For example, with the availability of IP cores for the CAN, MOST and Flexray communication standards, on top of the Linux support, Xilinx is able to deliver development kits, reference designs and other development resources that meet the specific needs of developers working on automotive electronic systems. Other market areas of focus for Xilinx Embedded Processing Solutions include: wired and wireless communications, industrial and militaryall areas where Linux is being widely adopted.

In addition, Xilinx and its partners provide an extensive offering of reference designs, development boards, tools and the widely used OS programs from which customers can choose. A variety of embedded design services, training and support are also available from Xilinx to ensure first-time design success with any processing challenge. Embedded tool providers LauterBach and Impulse Accelerated Technologies also announced support of the MicroBlaze v7 processor.

The upgraded MicroBlaze Development Kit, Spartan-3E 1600E FPGA Edition is a comprehensive kit featuring an embedded Spartan-3E 1600 FPGA board with a MicroBlaze soft processor and a complete embedded development suite for customers to get started easily.

Pricing, availability
The EDK 9.2 release is immediately available for $495, and includes the MicroBlaze v7 processor core, XPS 9.2 tool suite with processing IP libraries, software drivers, documentation and reference design examples.

XPS 9.2 supports MicroBlaze and PowerPC processing design for Virtex-5, Virtex-4, Virtex-II Pro and Spartan-3 FGPAs. It also supports a broad range of computing platforms, including Windows XP (32bit) SP1, SP2, Linux Red Hat Enterprise (32bit 5.0 & 4.0, 64bit 5.0) as well as Solaris 9 (2.9/5.9).

The MicroBlaze Development Kit, Spartan-3E 1600E FPGA Edition, is available for $595. For Embedded Linux development, BlueCat Linux MicroBlaze Edition is available from LynuxWorks.

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