FPGA Leader Drives Collaboration Across ESL Ecosystem to Proliferate High-Level Design Methodologies and Tools
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- March 13, 2006 -- Xilinx, Inc. (Nasdaq: XLNX) today launched the ESL Initiative -- a multi-faceted program aimed at making electronic system level (ESL) design methodologies and tools more accessible to programmable system designers. The initiative expands collaboration across the ESL supply chain to better integrate and optimize ESL tool flows for both hardware designers and software programmers targeting Xilinx FPGAs. Initial participants include: Bluespec Inc.; Celoxica; CriticalBlue; Impulse Accelerated Technologies, Inc.; Mitrionics, Inc.; Nallatech; Poseidon Design Systems, Inc.; SystemCrafter; and Teja Technologies.
The ESL Initiative underscores the commitment by Xilinx and ESL tool providers to drive technological innovation and development of practical solutions that deliver on the full potential of this high-level design methodology. The initiative has identified four key areas of focus:
- Improve ease of use to further simplify and abstract the details associated with FPGA design
- Optimize support for Xilinx embedded PowerPC(TM) and MicroBlaze(TM) processor solutions
- Improve the quality of results with high level language (HLL) synthesis tools
- Establish common standards for FPGA ESL tool interoperability
Technical collaboration will be backed by cooperative marketing and educational programs to evangelize and promote the capabilities, strengths and benefits of FPGA ESL solutions. As part of that effort, Xilinx today launched the FPGA industry's first ESL knowledge center at http://www.xilinx.com/esl and user blog at http://toolbox.xilinx.com/cgi-bin/forum . The site organizes information on tools, design flows and applications, including details on how designers can get started with an ESL product evaluation. The goal is to empower the user community to make informed decisions about ESL methodologies and solutions based on their specific requirements.
"Ensuring that all designers can readily access the benefits of programmability is fundamental to our vision for the industry, and ESL is an important convergence point for addressing the methodology and tool requirements of both hardware designers and software developers," said Wim Roelandts, president and CEO of Xilinx. "We are impressed with the success that our ESL partners have had to date, and are committed to furthering their efforts in a way that expands the reach of ESL solutions and FPGAs to new applications and to users who have never before implemented designs in programmable logic."
ESL for FPGA
ESL is an emerging design methodology that allows designers to work at higher levels of abstraction than typically supported by register transfer level (RTL) and gate level hardware descriptions. Its growth has been driven by the continuing complexity of IC design, including the use of third-party intellectual property (IP) blocks and embedded cores, which has made RTL and gate-level methods less efficient. The proliferation of FPGA-based ESL tools and methodologies will make it easier for designers to leverage programmable devices for critical system applications such as algorithm acceleration, high performance computing, high-speed packet processing, and rapid prototyping.
"The value of the current generation of ESL tools is particularly appealing for our system level designers, so they can evaluate their algorithmic expressions in hardware without needing to become hardware design experts," said Sven Englund, principal engineer at DRS Power & Control Technologies, Inc. "The ease-of-use concepts that are being pioneered by Xilinx and participants in the ESL Initiative can simplify hardware design to the extent that the details of hardware implementation in an FPGA could soon become transparent to system architects."
Collaborating on Shared Vision
ESL tool development to date has focused primarily on the design of hard- wired devices (ASICs, ASSPs). However, the increasing sophistication of programmable system platforms such as the Xilinx Virtex(TM)-4 and Spartan(TM)- 3 FPGAs has accelerated the need for FPGA-based ESL design methodologies. Spurred by the rapid growth and popularity of Platform FPGAs, many ESL tool providers are incorporating support for Xilinx FPGAs as a key focus of their product strategy. Collaboration with the ESL ecosystem is the principle tenet of the Xilinx strategy and initiative for bringing ESL closer to the mainstream FPGA community. Empowering the move to higher level design also played a strategic factor in the recent acquisition of AccelChip, Inc. through which Xilinx provides its own robust ESL tool support.
Many applications targeted for high-end FPGAs are initially captured algorithmically in HLLs such as C or MATLAB. This has led to growing interest by the FPGA user community in tools that can provide an implementation path directly from HLLs to hardware. ESL methodologies hold the promise of streamlining the design approach by accepting designs written in C or MATLAB languages and implementing the function straight into hardware. Designers can also leverage ESL to optimize performance by exporting compute intensive "bottleneck" functions into an FPGA coprocessor implemented in programmable hardware.
"Mercury provides a broad range of FPGA-based products, software tools, and programming services. ESL tools will enable software engineers across the board to manage their own programming requirements," said Craig Lund, vice president and chief technology officer at Mercury. "We're excited to see Xilinx's efforts to expand the ESL ecosystem for FPGAs, which will allow customers to select the best ESL tool for their situation."
Xilinx, Inc. is the worldwide leader of programmable logic solutions. For more information, visit http://www.xilinx.com.
"ESL is increasingly relevant to FPGA customers. Best-in-class FPGA solutions are complex systems that can benefit from approaches enabling rapid design space exploration and delivering designs significantly faster and with fewer bugs, but with the same quality of results. We commend Xilinx for this initiative to promote ESL for the FPGA space."
-- Shiv Tasker, CEO, Bluespec Inc.
"This worldwide initiative represents yet another milestone in the growing popularity and adoption of electronic system level (ESL) design and synthesis. There is fundamental value and synergy in linking ESL with FPGA technology and its positive impact will be felt across the spectrum of design projects that integrate programmable logic with DSP, uP and custom hardware."
-- Phil Bishop, CEO, Celoxica
"The vision of the ESL Initiative is to bring the power of FPGA-based ESL methodologies and tools to software development engineers as well as hardware designers. Our Cascade embedded system design solution automatically generates a programmable coprocessor that accelerates executable code on the FPGA, using the embedded software itself as the high level language. The ESL Initiative brings software and hardware design methodologies together in a complementary way that both design communities can use."
-- David Stewart, CEO, CriticalBlue
"The best way to attract software developers to FPGA platforms is by making software-to-hardware compilation easier. Our focus continues to be on providing C-based tools that do not require low-level FPGA design skills. The Xilinx ESL Initiative helps spread the message that software-to-hardware is a practical and productive method of design."
-- David Pellerin, CTO, Impulse Accelerated Technologies, Inc.
"Mitrionics is excited to become a Xilinx ecosystem partner and contribute to their ESL Initiative to broaden the reach of FPGAs to new development platforms, design tools, and applications. FPGAs have long shown incredible potential to benefit the computing world if they could become more easily programmed. The Mitrion Platform achieves this goal by making FPGA Supercomputing application development fast, easy, and practical for software developers, scientists, and researchers without requiring any hardware design knowledge or experience."
-- Anders Dellson, CEO, Mitrionics, Inc.
"The Xilinx ESL Initiative is the first major step by any FPGA vendor to recognize the plethora of companies that have been busy making the FPGA accessible to the software engineer. This initiative will help to bring these disparate pieces together and will, in turn, make the technology far more open and user friendly for software engineers."
-- Allan J. Cantle, President and Founder, Nallatech
"We are very excited to participate in the Xilinx ESL Initiative. Xilinx FPGAs have a unique combination of processors, high-performance DSP blocks and memory architectures which map well with the capabilities and road map of the Poseidon tools. We believe that system-level design tools are the key driver for the next-generation of embedded FPGA designs. With Poseidon tools, customers can analyze, optimize and accelerate their designs while reducing time to market. Poseidon tools will enable our mutual customers to get the most out of both their design and the implementation fabric to meet the rapidly growing market requirements in less time and at reduced cost."
-- Ravi Janak, CEO and President, Poseidon Design Systems, Inc.
"There is lots of buzz today around ESL. However, it is difficult to filter out the relevant information as it pertains to FPGA-based design. The Xilinx ESL Initiative web site and user blog are exactly what is needed. Our designers will now have a great starting point to quickly access information and exchange experiences with other users, so they can better understand, select and apply ESL solutions."
-- John Jensen, Senior Member of Technical Staff, Rincon Research Corporation
"We are delighted to be working with Xilinx as part of their ESL Initiative. Our vision is to provide a tool that can bridge the gap between SystemC and FPGAs, at an affordable price. This not only enables system-level and hardware designers to implement their designs quickly and reliably, but also opens up the use of FPGAs to a new market of C and C++ programmers. At under $3000 for a perpetual license, our software gives Xilinx customers an affordable way of designing FPGAs at a higher level."
-- Dr Jonathan Saul, CEO of SystemCrafter
"We've found that many of our network OEM customers are increasingly moving their strategic functions into FPGAs. As a result, they are looking for ways to work at a higher level and spend less time on low-level implementation details, especially when dealing with the kind of multi-core designs that Teja enables. The Xilinx ESL Initiative is helping raise awareness of the availability of leading-edge ESL solutions that can help customers more efficiently solve their design challenges."
-- Akash Deshpande, Founder and CTO, Teja Technologies