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Tensilica processors support Virtex-4 LX200 dev't kit

Posted: 21 Feb 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:software development kit? Virtex? FPGA? processor?

Tensilica has added support for Avnet's Xilinx Virtex-4 LX200 development kit for high-speed hardware-based simulations to its Xtensa configurable and Diamond Standard processor families. This will enable software developers to choose between the Avnet LX60 board and LX200 board to speed their software design, debug and program optimization processes.

The company's software developers' toolkitsconsisting of a the Xtensa Xplorer integrated design environment, code development toolchain and Tensilica's instruction set simulatorwork seamlessly with either Avnet FPGA board. The software tools include libraries that enable software developers to use standard C library functions such as print to print out to the host PC and read/write from the hard disk of the host PC.

Designers using Tensilica's processors can take maximum advantage of an Avnet Virtex-4 development kit to gather extensive hardware-based profiling information. With hardware-based profiling, developers can get an execution profile of the program, which allows the developer to quickly pinpoint execution hotspots. This profile can be viewed graphically within Tensilica's Xtensa Xplorer.

Using feedback compilation, a developer can set a flag so statistics can be collected on the number of times branches are taken or not taken during execution on the Avnet Xilinx development kit board. The Xtensa C/C++ compiler then uses these run-time generated statistics and recompiles the program to optimize for speed by placing most frequently taken branches in straight-line code, and for code size by compiling less frequently executed routines for code size rather than speed. The feedback-based compilation method speeds up applications between 5 to 15 percent and reduces code size by up to 15 percent.

Additionally, the Ethernet interface on the boards make them ideal for running an OS such as Linux and the associated TCP/IP stack and network file systems.

"Design teams need to complete as much of the software development process as possible in parallel with the hardware development for complex SoC designs," said Steve Roddy, Tensilica's VP of marketing. "By emulating our processors in an Avnet FPGA board, software developers can significantly speed up their development cycles when compared to using only software simulation methods."

Tensilica supplies users with precompiled FPGA bitstreams that support the LX60 and LX200 boards. Bitstreams for the Diamond Standard processor family for the Avnet FPGA boards is available starting at $3,000. For users of Tensilica's Xtensa configurable processors, the Tensilica processor generator automatically creates a custom FPGA bitstream specific to the Avnet boards for each new Xtensa core configuration. Tensilica customers can use these bitstreams on an unlimited number of Avnet LX60 or Avnet LX200 boards, enabling development teams with large numbers of software designers to cost-effectively deploy a large number of development systems.

Tensilica is one of the exhibitors in the upcoming IIC-China 2008.

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