ARM, Xilinx to collaborate on programmable systems

TechOnline India - October 19, 2009

FPGA vendor Xilinx Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) and ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) have announced they are collaborating to enable ARM processor and interconnect technology to be implemented within Xilinx FPGAs.

LONDON — FPGA vendor Xilinx Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) and ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) have announced they are collaborating to enable ARM processor and interconnect technology to be implemented within Xilinx FPGAs.

The companies said that the agreement lays the foundation for the next-generation of programmable systems platforms for the semiconductor industry.

Xilinx is licensing ARM Cortex processor intellectual property (IP) and using performance-optimized ARM cell libraries and embedded memories for future programmable platforms. In addition, the two companies will work together to define the next-generation of the AMBA on-chip interconnect technology so that it can be used with FPGA architectures.

It is not clear whether Xilinx is going to take hard ARM processor cores and implement them alongside FPGA fabrics or will also allow ARM cores to be synthesized to the FPGA fabric. But Xilinx said the agreement marks a commitment to adopt "the complete range of ARM technology, leveraging ARM's processor strengths to provide customers and ecosystem developers with flexible computing platforms where their IP and software development can be shared and re-used on a broad scale."

Xilinx has previously produced FPGAs with PowerPC processor cores diffused into the die. Applications for the combination of ARM and Xilinx IP and interconnect are expected to span communications, automotive, consumer, aerospace, defense and industrial markets.

The two companies are working with IP providers and EDA vendors including Cadence, CAST, Denali, Mentor Graphics, Northwest Logic, Omiino, Sarance, Synopsys and Xylon to support an advanced version of the AMBA specification.

"Time-to-market pressures and escalating product development costs are driving the development of a new category of products that combines the processor-centric design methods and open standards common in system-on-chip designs, with programmable logic flexibility," said ARM chief technology officer, Mike Muller, in a statement. "By combining ARM's leadership in low-power, high-performance processor and physical IP technology and its Connected Community ecosystem, with Xilinx's expertise in FPGA technology, we can accelerate the development of applications across a broad set of markets for software developers and hardware designers alike."

"While Xilinx's adoption of ARM processor technology provides a robust roadmap for FPGA-based architectures, the collaboration and joint definition of the next-generation AMBA interconnect specification will deliver the optimization necessary to achieve the system performance, integration, reuse, and scalability required in these products," said Nick Tredennick, a technology analyst for Gilder Publishing. "It provides a common technology basis for IP and system solutions to be developed, scaled, exchanged and shared in a way that will have a profound influence on the programmable logic industry."

Related links and articles:

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Commentary: ARM's Osprey broadens the battle front with Intel

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Introducing the Xilinx targeted design platform

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