RFEL offers FPGA benefits to ARM software developers

November 05, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
RFEL has extended the company’s design service range to include Xilinx's Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC. The decision merges together a powerful ARM multicore processing system with the latest, high speed, Xilinx 28 nm FPGA programmable logic into a single chip.

"Making Zynq-7000 SoC design consultancy part of our service offering," explained Dr. Alex Kuhrt, RFEL's CEO, "allows us to offer support to engineers and project managers who wish to take advantage of our world-class signal processing FPGA-based portfolio, but who do not wish to engage in FPGA development at the VHDL or Verilog 'code-face'. In particular, we want to offer a low-risk, effective path for software development companies, or embedded product developers with little or no FPGA experience to take advantage of everything that FPGAs can offer in terms of system performance, total power and resource efficiency, but without leaving the microprocessor design domain that they are familiar with."

Zynq-7000 devices are essentially an ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor with NEON and double precision floating point extensions, and a rich peripheral set; Standard fare for those already working with advanced ARM processors, but what makes this device so attractive is the low-latency, high bandwidth, Xilinx 28 nm FPGA programmable logic fabric that is included and directly connected to the processing core by multiple AMBA AXI4 interfaces, DMA channels and shared memory interfaces.

Kuhrt added: "Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC is a great opportunity for software-based, signal processing companies, perhaps with an existing focus on ARM products, to increase their performance by moving processing and other real-time functions into FPGAs. RFEL, with its world-class reputation for efficient algorithm design and FPGA implementations of that functionality, is in a unique position to help those companies; knowledge of the basic logic fabric of the FPGA is not enough for an optimal design. We have a deep understanding of the idiosyncrasies of FPGA synthesis tools, experience of integrating complex, mixed hardware/software systems, and a library of proven building blocks to ensure short design times with optimal results. Now, we are ensuring that these building blocks are augmented by qualified drivers and programming interfaces to make them accessible to a software developer targeting code to the ARM®