Xilinx Platform Studio 6.3 Simplifies Embedded Processing Design

9/21/2004 - Xilinx, Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) announced the new version 6.3i of the Platform Studio for system-level embedded processing design on Xilinx Platform FPGAs. The Platform Studio tool suite automates a host of architecture-level design steps and offers a powerful new software environment based on the industry-standard Eclipse integrated design environment (IDE). The Platform Studio 6.3i release supports the Xilinx processor solutions, including the MicroBlaze and immersed PowerPC cores, the industry’s most popular soft and hard processors. The new 6.3i release enables system-level design for the newly introduced Virtex-4 LX, SX, and FX device families, and supports the Xilinx Virtex and Spartan-3 Series Platform FPGAs.

The Platform Studio 6.3i embedded platform design environment is comprised of a set of intelligent tools that can abstract or hide excessive system details while giving designers the ability to automatically carry out an entire series of architectural design steps. Developers can now boot a basic real-time embedded system within a matter of minutes rather than days, weeks or even months – a compelling advantage when facing the extraordinary system complexity, processor performance, and time-to-market pressures of next-generation embedded platforms.

“Our intelligent Platform Studio is the clear choice for systems developers who need processing solutions optimized to meet the performance and price requirements of their designs,” said Mark Aaldering, vice president of the Embedded Processing and IP Divisions at Xilinx. “The combination of the advanced processing features of Xilinx Platform FPGAs and our hard and soft processor solutions offers unmatched price-performance value for our customers.”

The basic Platform Studio 6.3i tool suite supports HW/SW platform design with a wide variety of optimized design engines and introduces the new Platform Studio Software Development Kit (SDK) as an alternative software design environment for power users. Software compiler, debugger, and automatic board support package (BSP) generation as well as a base system builder and enhanced IP creation wizards are all included in Platform Studio. This entire suite of tool components is conveniently bundled with a processing IP library, software drivers, documentation, reference designs and the MicroBlaze soft processor IP core in the new 6.3i release of the Xilinx Embedded Development Kit (EDK).

Software Platform Advancements
Platform Studio SDK 6.3i streamlines the software savvy engineer’s experience with a specialized software design environment based on the industry-standard, open-source Eclipse IDE. Power software developers now have the choice to create code in the basic Platform Studio IDE or alternatively to work in this familiar SW studio environment that is becoming ubiquitous across the embedded industry. The new 6.3i version also introduces a graphical memory map manager to simplify and track the system memory allocation, as well as linker script generation to expedite the process. To save engineers from having to create stacks from scratch, 6.3i IP library also includes a new lightweight TCP/IP network software stack for use with Xilinx hardware processor implementations.

Hardware Platform Enhancements
Automating the development of embedded hardware platforms is also easier than ever now that the Platform Studio Base System Builder supports the rapid creation of hardware without requiring any specific target board. Users can generate and customize their own hardware implementations, rather than modify existing reference platforms or evaluation boards to match their own applications. The 6.3i Platform Studio IP Creation Wizard provides new support for On-Chip Peripheral Bus (OPB) Master applications and bus functional model (BFM) simulation, as well as the creation of testbench shells and drivers. New user-defined functions allow hardware acceleration via direct connects between MicroBlaze processor cores and fast FPGA logic. These Fast Simplex Links (FSL) empower MicroBlaze designers to easily optimize system performance with processor connections to fast parallel hardware, particularly when sequential processor implementations alone cannot meet system specifications.

Platform Design & Debug Made Easier
Additional ease-of-use features embedded in the Platform Studio software include: the MicroBlaze virtual platform target environment that facilitates pure software simulation prior to hardware availability, a color-coded IP license status indicator, IP core revision history report, multi-core PPC debug rule checking, and an entirely new Online Help system. These new productivity enhancements are further complemented with GNU debugger version upgrades and an open file format to ease integration of Xilinx and third-party development board reference designs. While the Platform Studio tools accelerate design by automating many steps, all platform design parameters are still directly accessible for engineers to customize in complete detail.

Embedded Processing QuickStart
Xilinx also offers a new Embedded Processing QuickStart service that helps development teams ramp up their designs and ensure first-pass success. The new service package encompasses design environment configuration, design architecture and implementation consultants, and development of a comprehensive educational plan to maximize a company’s internal resources. Complete information with pricing options is available at http://www.xilinx.com/epq.

Platform, Pricing and Availability
Platform Studio 6.3i supports PowerPC hard processor and MicroBlaze soft processor designs for the Xilinx Virtex-4, Virtex-II ProTM, Virtex-II Pro X, and Spartan-3 Series Platform FPGAs. It is immediately available for the following computing platforms: Windows® 2000 SP2, SP3, SP4, and XP SP, Solaris® 2.8/5.8 and 2.9/5.9, as well as Linux® Red Hat® Enterprise 3.0.

The entire EDK and Platform Studio 6.3i package is $495 US list and includes licensing for the MicroBlaze soft processor. Updates for existing licensed users and new product registration can be accessed at http://www.xilinx.com/ise/embedded/edk_download.htm. Time-limited evaluation versions of the Xilinx ISE 6.3i logic tools, ChipScope Pro hardware debugger and partner tools are also included.

For complete information on Platform Studio and the EDK, visit www.xilinx.com/edk.

About Xilinx
Xilinx is the worldwide leader in complete programmable logic solutions. For more information, visit www.xilinx.com.

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