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Targeted Platform Design

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What in the heck are we talking about? Well, we manufacture, sell, and support a programmable part that can just about solve any problem. In an effort to make easier the job of building a networked, remote hosted ‘framistat’ (insert your favorite application here), the challenge is to identify common themes, and then provide a template, with the tools, hardware, software and intellectual property (IP cores) to expedite the development.


The Themes, Today


Logic, DSP, Embedded, and System are the four offered platforms.


Logic Edition is the traditional “glue logic” application:  you have VHDL, or Verilog, and you need it to be realized. This is the traditional flow with which we are all familiar.


DSP Edition is tailored for wireless, wired, video, and audio applications where the development of the algorithms is often not done in a hardware definition language or HDL (VHDL or Verilog), but may still be one of the means to develop your DSP algorithms. The platform supports four different flows for getting to the solution:  the traditional HDL flow, a c/c++ or MATLAB® software-based flow, a graphical flow (Simulink® software), and a mixture of any other three.


Embedded Edition is for systems that also include at least one processor, and the software code. In this environment, the logic, management of IP cores (UART, Memory controllers, Counter/Timer, etc.), and the software are all dealt with by one overall tool, EDK. The hardware and the software may be developed, simulated, and debugged.


System Edition is all of the above:  perhaps your application has elements of each platform, and this allows all tools to be available.


It Is Not Just Tools


As depicted by the pyramid in the brochures, you start with a hardware device, Spartan® device or Virtex® device at the base:  Spartan with less logic, lower costs, and moderate performance; and Virtex for more logic, more functionality, and maximum performance. The next level is the theme, or platform:  Logic, DSP, Embedded. In the logic category, the connectivity solutions form one of the most common platforms (processing packets). Each of these has an assembled,  pre-tested, verified printed circuit board, and a collection of applicable IP cores to facilitate development. At the top is your application, differentiated from all the others, unique to your world.


Market Specific


Each application tends to be for a particular market, and Xilinx has collected the expertise required for you to be successful in your market. Examples are:  communications, video, and broadcasting. IP cores for your market are available to speed up your time to market.


Trying To Make It Easy


“It is not easy being green” is a humorous tune from Kermit the Frog.


But it might as well apply here, too. It is not easy being an FPGA, where we have no idea what we are “going to grow up to be,” as that is determined every time power is applied, and we go find a configuration to execute.


We can lament that we just don’t know what our devices will get used for. But then, we can listen to our customers, and observe all the neat things we end up in, and then work to provide the eco-system where the development of these highly unique and custom solutions becomes more efficient, and timelier to develop.


At the end of the song, Kermit is happy he is green:  so, too, are we happy to have invented the FPGA, and led in its applications for more than 25 years.


Austin Lesea



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