FPGAs deliver over 20GMACS for under US $30

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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Apr 3, 2007

Low-cost DSP-optimised FPGAs claim a new price-performance-power triad for digital signal processing.

Xilinx has launched its low-cost Spartan-DSP series with development boards and enhanced design software, significantly expanding its offering of XtremeDSP solutions and establishing a new price-performance-power triad for digital signal processing (DSP).

The Spartan-DSP series provides high DSP performance at the lowest cost points in the FPGA industry, delivering over 20GMACS for under US $30, while consuming up to 50% less dynamic power than other high-performance reconfigurable devices for DSP functions at this performance point.

With the addition of the new Spartan-DSP series, the XtremeDSP silicon portfolio offers three DSP-optimised platforms with a wide array of devices that provide DSP engineers with the flexibility to choose the right mix of features to match application requirements and easily migrate designs between platforms.

As the first platform in the Spartan-DSP series, the Spartan-3A DSP platform provides the most cost-efficient devices optimised for wireless, video and consumer applications.

This complements the higher performance processing of the Virtex-DSP series with the Virtex-4 SX and Virtex-5 SXT platforms targeted at high-end applications such as wireless basestation and high-definition video including surveillance, broadcast and 3D medical imaging.

"Over the past few years, signal processing markets have demanded higher performance, cheaper DSP devices".

"Vendors also require delivery of complete platforms, IP and design environments to accelerate their time to market", stated Will Strauss, President of Forward Concepts.

"With the new Spartan-DSP series and expanded line-up of XtremeDSP solutions, Xilinx is able to scale the performance and power advantages of their device portfolio to unprecedented price-performance points".

"This opens a range of new exciting applications that Xilinx and its customers can tap to grow their markets".

These latest offerings facilitate a more efficient implementation of FPGA-programmable DSP coprocessing platforms, a growing trend.

FPGAs often complement programmable DSPs like the Texas Instrument TMS320 family in signal processing systems to implement system logic multiplexing and consolidation, new peripheral or bus interfaces, and performance accelerators in the signal processing chain.

Further, the Spartan-3A DSP devices are part of the company's platform-based DSP strategy and XtremeDSP solutions roadmap, which are supported with a comprehensive ecosystem of third-party DSP product and service providers.

The Spartan-3A DSP platform features the 3SD3400A device delivering over 30GMACS and 2200Gbit/s memory bandwidth and the 3SD1800A device with over 20GMACS and 1500Gbit/s memory.

At the heart of the Spartan-3A DSP architecture is the new cost-optimised XtremeDSP slice (DSP48A) that enables designers to implement many independent arithmetic functions.

The architecture also supports connecting multiple DSP48A slices to form wide math functions, DSP filters, and complex arithmetic functions without the use of general logic fabric, thereby reducing power consumption while delivering very high performance and efficient silicon utilisation.

The new DSP48A slice reduces power in common FIR filters by 50% compared with other high-performance reconfigurable devices.

"Xilinx innovation provides Vecima with the opportunity to do more for our customers in a more cost effective package", said Scott Davis, Director of Technology strategy for Vecima Networks, a leader in the design and manufacture of communications products.

"Integrating DSP slices into Spartan- 3A devices allows us to more efficiently use programmable logic in our WiMax, DOCSIS, and digital video solutions".

In addition to the XtremeDSP DSP48A slice, the Spartan-3A DSP platform delivers up to 53,712 logic cells, 2268Kbit of performance-enhanced block RAM (BRAM), and 373Kbit of distributed RAM that collectively can be configured to optimise a broad range of signal processing requirements.

The new 9.1i releases of the Xilinx System Generator for DSP and AccelDSP synthesis software support industry approaches for designing Spartan3A-DSP devices as coprocessing engines with digital signal processors or as stand-alone system platforms.

System Generator for DSP is a high-level tool for the design, verification and debug of high-performance DSP systems, including seamless interoperability with Simulink software from The MathWorks.

AccelDSP is a high-level Matlab language-based tool for designing DSP modules targeting Xilinx devices.

Used in conjunction with the Xilinx library of signal processing intellectual property (IP) optimised for both basic and application-specific functions, these tool suites provide a comprehensive DSP development environment that does not require expertise in hardware description languages.

The new Spartan-DSP series targets cost-sensitive, high-performance signal processing applications.

Engineering samples are now shipping for the Spartan-3A DSP platform with the 3SD3400A device immediately available and the 3SD1800A device to follow later this quarter.

The 3SD3400A device is priced at US $44.95 and the 3SD1800A device at US $29.85.

Designers can immediately begin designing with full support today for the XtremeDSP device portfolio with the 9.1i releases of System Generator for DSP suite for US $995, AccelDSP synthesis tool for US $4995, and ISE Foundation for US $2495.

To further jump start development, Xilinx is offering the Spartan-3A DSP development board with the 3SD3400A device for US $1095.

In addition, Xilinx will ship off-the-shelf kits over the next two quarters tailored for wireless and multimedia video applications.

These include the Spartan-3A DSP Editions of the XtremeDSP Starter Kit, XtremeDSP Video Developer Kit and XtremeDSP Coprocessing Kit.

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