Altium Designer provides an FPGA vendor-neutral solution to the development of embedded systems using programmable devices, and provides a number of cross-device soft processor cores that can be implemented in virtually any large-scale FPGA. The addition of MicroBlaze support in Altium Designer 6.0, however, allows engineers to take advantage of the higher performance and smaller size of the MicroBlaze core, which has been specifically optimized for use with Xilinx FPGAs.
"Xilinx is pleased that Altium has added support for the MicroBlaze to its Altium Designer system," says Mark Jensen, senior manager of Embedded Ecosystem Strategic Marketing for the Embedded Processing Division at Xilinx. "Altium Designer brings a rich set of features and unique, integrated design methodology for FPGA system development through to board implementation. The addition of MicroBlaze support means Xilinx customers can take advantage of this environment for system development, and Altium customers targeting Xilinx devices can gain the performance benefits of the MicroBlaze processor."
To support the MicroBlaze, Altium Designer 6.0 includes a special FPGA-based 'wrapper' core that provides hardware-level design compatibility with Altium Designer's native cross-device 32-bit processor -- the TSK3000. The wrapper allows designers to easily switch between the TSK3000 and MicroBlaze without the need to modify the hardware design, and means that engineers using the MicroBlaze can take advantage of Altium Designer's range of included peripherals that use the Wishbone OpenBus interconnect standard. It also facilitates the use of Altium Designer's FPGA-based virtual instruments for interactive hardware debugging -- LiveDesign. Similar wrapper cores are included to support hard processor cores, such as the PowerPC® available with Xilinx Virtex®-2 Pro FPGAs, and discrete processors such as PowerPC and ARM® devices.
Altium Designer 6.0 includes a full software tool chain for the MicroBlaze FPGA-based soft processor that is based on Altium's advanced Viper compiler technology, which is used across all processors supported by the system. This provides full C-code compatibility between processors, and produces fast, highly optimized object code. Internal benchmarking of the initial Viper-based MicroBlaze compiler implementation shows a code size reduction of up to 10% compared with other available compiler tool sets. This, combined with the integration with hardware development process, makes Altium Designer 6.0 a compelling solution for MicroBlaze developers.
The provision of both hardware and software compatibility between processors means designers can easily migrate designs between execution platforms. They can, for example, use the TSK3000 for initial device-independent system development, then switch to the faster and more compact MicroBlaze core to specifically target a Xilinx FPGA in the final product.
"Xilinx has been very active in promoting processor-based system design using FPGAs, and Altium believes that this is becoming an increasingly important area as electronic products become more intelligent and complex," said Nick Martin, founder and CEO, Altium. "We have developed Altium Designer to allow all engineers to harness the benefits offered by today's large-scale FPGA devices, and change the way they approach design moving into the future. The addition of MicroBlaze support in Altium Designer 6.0 demonstrates our commitment to bringing the widest range of design options to our customers, and making Altium Designer a complete and unified solution for electronic product development."
About Altium Limited
Altium Limited (ASX: ALU) is a global developer and supplier of electronics design software for the Microsoft Windows environment. Founded in 1985, Altium released the world's first Microsoft Windows-based printed circuit board design tool in 1991, and continues to provide advanced, easy-to-use and affordable software design tools for complete electronic product development to electronics engineers, designers, and developers worldwide. Altium is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with sales and support offices in Australia, the United States, Japan, China and Europe -- and maintains a large reseller network in all other major markets. For more information please visit www.altium.com.
Xilinx is the worldwide leader in complete programmable logic solutions. For more information, visit www.xilinx.com
Altium, Altium Designer, Board Insight, CAMtastic, CircuitStudio, Design Explorer, DXP, LiveDesign, NanoBoard, NanoTalk, Nexar, nVisage, P-CAD, Protel, Situs, TASKING, and Topological Autorouting and their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altium Limited or its subsidiaries. 'Xilinx,' 'MicroBlaze' and 'Virtex' are trademarks or registered trademarks of Xilinx, Inc. 'PowerPC' is a registered trademark of IBM Corp. 'ARM' is a registered trademark of ARM Limited. All other registered or unregistered trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners, and no trademark rights to the same are claimed.
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