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RFEL extends FPGA offering to ARM devs

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SoC? design service range? VHDL? ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor? Xilinx 28 nm FPGA?

RFEL, an electronics design and intellectual property (IP) company specialising in DSP development, has extended its design service range to include Xilinx's Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC. The move merges a powerful ARM multi-core processing system with the latest, high speed, Xilinx 28nm FPGA programmable logic into a single chip.

Dr. Alex Kuhrt, RFEL's CEO, stated that by making Zynq-7000 SoC design consultancy part of our service offering, his company will be able to support engineers and project managers who wish to take advantage of the company's signal processing FPGA-based portfolio, but who do not wish to engage in FPGA development at the VHDL or Verilog 'code-face'. In particular, we want to offer a low-risk, effective path for software development companies, or embedded product developers with little or no FPGA experience to take advantage of everything that FPGAs can offer in terms of system performance, total power and resource efficiency, but without leaving the microprocessor design domain that they are familiar with.

Zynq-7000 devices are essentially an ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor with NEON and double precision floating point extensions, and a rich peripheral set; Standard fare for those already working with advanced ARM processors, but what makes this device so attractive is the low-latency, high bandwidth, Xilinx 28 nm FPGA programmable logic fabric that is included and directly connected to the processing core by multiple AMBA AXI4 interfaces, DMA channels and shared memory interfaces.

"Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC is a great opportunity for software-based, signal processing companies, perhaps with an existing focus on ARM products, to increase their performance by moving processing and other real-time functions into FPGAs. RFEL, with its world-class reputation for efficient algorithm design and FPGA implementations of that functionality, is in a unique position to help those companies; knowledge of the basic logic fabric of the FPGA is not enough for an optimal design. We have a deep understanding of the idiosyncrasies of FPGA synthesis tools, experience of integrating complex, mixed hardware/software systems, and a library of proven building blocks to ensure short design times with optimal results. Now, we are ensuring that these building blocks are augmented by qualified drivers and programming interfaces to make them accessible to a software developer targeting code to the ARM Cortex processor. Our experience with microprocessor designs encompasses the previous generation of soft-core processors for FPGA, in addition to a history of successful deliveries to customers of conventional CPU and desktop platform based solutions. We feel that Zynq-7000 platform has arrived on the market at a time when RFEL is ideally placed to maximise its potential to product development customers.", Kuhrt added.

Adopting Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC is a straightforward option for all members of a product development team. The hardware designer can add Zynq devices to their PCB design as easily as with any other conventional ARM device, since the processor-centric design facilitates fast turn-on, system bring-up and mastering. The software designer can target the platform in comfort, using standard tools from ARM and other well-known 3rd party developers. A selection of operating systems is supported with Zynq-7000 platform specific distributions, and the marriage of FPGA programmable logic and processor in single chip system solutions will reduce costs and development risks. Of course, the capability should equally be of interest to FPGA developers who are limited in their exposure to ARM development. Zynq adds floating point co-processor capability, allowing a system to perform complex non-real-time calculations and apply the results to the real-time FPGA data stream.

- Paul Buckley
??EE Times Europe





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