Virtex-4 Platform FPGA-based solution can lower the power and cost of SCA-compliant modems
SAN JOSE, Calif.— February 22, 2006—Xilinx Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) and ISR Technologies today announced the availability of their off-the-shelf prototyping-to-production kit that accelerates implementation of software defined radio (SDR) modems for programs such as the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Program. It is the industry’s first SDR kit to support partial reconfiguration and SCA-enabled System-on-Chip (SoC). The JTRS SDR Kit consists of reconfigurable hardware and software elements that are compliant with JTRS-mandated specifications, including the Software Communications Architecture (SCA). The kit leverages the low-power, high-performance digital signal processing (DSP) features of Xilinx® Virtex™-4 Platform FPGAs, along with their partial reconfiguration capabilities, to provide a programmable solution that meets JTRS requirements and lowers overall power consumption and manufacturing cost through more efficient usage of processing resources.
“Lowering power and cost are two of the biggest technical issues facing developers of SDRs today. Xilinx and ISR have brought to market a complete prototyping-to-production kit that allows developers to address these issues with two novel technologies available in Xilinx Virtex-4 Platform FPGAs: partial reconfiguration and an embedded processor capable of running the complete JTRS operating environment,” said Manuel Uhm, senior DSP marketing manager at Xilinx. “We expect developers using this kit to realize significant time-to-market and cost savings in leveraging these technologies into a competitive advantage for their production radios.”
Today’s announcement underscores the company’s long-term, uninterrupted commitment to serving the aerospace and defense industry. Xilinx programmable solutions have been used for more than 15 years across a variety of defense applications that meet rigid and diverse performance and environmental specifications from space to base. In addition to a comprehensive suite of solutions designed specifically for the aerospace and defense industry, Xilinx has a dedicated team focused on the unique needs of this industry segment, including sales, support, application engineering, device characterization and operations for long term supply that far exceeds that of standard commercial devices.
The JTRS SDR kit is compliant with the SCA; the set of specifications that describe the interaction between different software and hardware components of a radio and provide software commands for their control . Adherence to the SCA ensures interoperability of products within the JTRS program. Xilinx and ISR closely collaborated with the Communications Research Centre ( CRC), which has been intimately involved in driving the evolution and adoption of the SCA. The kit includes CRC’s SCA Core Framework version 2.2, which is the current version mandated for JTRS.
Partial Reconfiguration Enables a Shared Resources Model
The JTRS SDR Kit leverages the partial reconfiguration capabilities of the Virtex-4 silicon, Xilinx Integrated System Environment™ (ISE) and PlanAhead 8.1 design tool suites to enable highly efficient shared resources SDR implementations through time sharing of available processing resources. Using partial reconfiguration, multiple applications or waveforms can be supported on a single set of processing resources, allowing one or more waveforms to be dynamically changed within the Virtex-4 device while other waveforms continue to be processed without interruption. In the kit, p artial reconfiguration is controlled by the SCA running on the embedded PowerPC 405 processor.
Using Xilinx software tools, designers can analyze trade-offs and quickly adapt hardware algorithms to further increase resource utilization. This unique approach can significantly lower the cost, power consumption and size of an SDR.
The JTRS SDR Kit leverages the powerful SoC features of the Virtex-4, removing the need for a discrete general purpose processor. The kit utilizes the embedded PowerPC ™ 405 processor to host the infrastructure required to manage the modem, consisting of an SCA Core Framework, a real-time operating system, and a CORBA ORB. In addition, the processor is used for control functions and network processing. At the same time, the programmable fabric and DSP resources are used for waveform processing. The kit includes two modems which can instantiate a wideband waveform in the Virtex-4 device to transmit video data to the other modem. While maintaining transmission of the wideband waveform, the modem can then initiate a narrowband waveform to also transmit voice data to the other modem.
“ISR Technologies believe partial reconfiguration and SoCs are critical enabling technologies for the evolution of SDRs. As such, we are pleased to be able to partner with Xilinx to offer the first commercially available kit that takes advantage of these key differentiators,” said Naïm Batani, CEO and president of ISR Technologies. “ISR Technologies has been able to integrate best-in-class technologies from Xilinx, CRC, Green Hills and Objective Interface Systems in this industry first JTRS SDR Kit.”
The goal of the JTRS program is to provide the military with software-programmable radios for voice, data and video communications that address current interoperability between allied forces, as well as bandwidth challenges. JTRS includes radios that will be deployed in vehicles, airplanes, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, and naval ships, as well as handheld and manpack radios. All these environments have strict power budgets and cost targets.
JTRS uses the power of SDR, a rapidly emerging technology that enables highly flexible and on-the-fly reprogrammable communications for a variety of applications and waveforms. Utilizing partially reconfigurable FPGAs for SDR implementation addresses both the power and cost issues associated with first generation SDR solutions by decreasing the number of DSP components while still providing the required functionality.
Pricing & Availability
The JTRS SDR Kit is priced at $75,000 USD and will be available in March, 2006. The complete list of all hardware and software components is available at www. xilinx.com/dsp/defense. The JTRS SDR Kit includes full documentation, including a QuickStart guide, in addition to free on-site installation and training on SCA-controlled partial reconfiguration by ISR Technologies.
About ISR Technologies
ISR Technologies is a leading edge Software Defined Radio company. By combining ISR's extensive signal processing expe rtise with its state of the art Software Defined Radio (SDR) capabilities, ISR produces Software Defined Modems and Communications Subsystems that are unparalleled in flexibility, scalability, and performance. For more information, visit www.isr-t.com.
Xilinx is the worldwide leader in complete programmable logic solutions. For more information, visit www.xilinx.com.