Xilinx Unveils PlanAhead 9.1 Design Suite with PinAhead Technology

Xilinx, Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) announced immediate availability of the 9.1 version of PlanAhead(TM) hierarchical design and analysis software with support for its newest high-performance 65nm Virtex(TM)-5 and Spartan-3 generation FPGAs. Used in conjunction with the Xilinx Integrated Software Environment (ISE(TM)) design tools, the PlanAhead 9.1 design suite delivers an additional option for designers to optimize the maximum performance of the company’s latest 65nm Virtex-5 FPGAs. Leveraging the unique advantages of the Virtex-5 ExpressFabric(TM) technology, 550 MHz DSP48E slices, and flexible clock management tiles, the PlanAhead 9.1 design suite delivers unprecedented levels of performance – as high as a two speed-grade advantage over competing solutions.

Introducing New PinAhead Technology for Simplified PCB Integration
PlanAhead 9.1 includes a new PinAhead Technology, offering an environment for fully automatic or semi-automated assignment of I/O ports to physical Package Pins. Using PinAhead Technology, FPGA designers can assign interface I/O groups to I/O pins simply by dragging into a graphical representation of the FPGA.

PinAhead Technology offers FPGA designers an intuitive solution to the complexities of managing the interface between their target FPGA and the PCB. PinAhead Technology provides an interface to analyze the design and device I/O requirements and to define an I/O pinout configuration that satisfies the needs of both the PCB and FPGA designers. Designers can begin pin assignment prior to having a completed PCB or FPGA netlist, drastically reducing time-to-market. PlanAhead 9.1 allows designers to either create their own port list with a GUI interface or import a comma separated values (CSV) spreadsheet. This allows early decisions to be made permitting the PCB and FPGA designers to begin work much earlier with a much more realistic pinout configuration.

“A growing number of FPGA designers have greatly improved the quality of results for their FPGA designs using PlanAhead,” said Salil Raje, Xilinx director for Design Planning and Verification. “The addition of our new PinAhead technology offers a unique bridge between optimal quality of results for the FPGA design and early optimized I/O layout for the PCB, extending the team-based design benefits of PlanAhead software.”

PinAhead technology allows early and intelligent pinout definition to eliminate a lot of the pinout related changes that typically happen downstream. Better user control of FPGA pinout early in the design process can also offer significant improvements in performance, avoiding a non-optimal pinout which causes further delays when trying to meeting timing requirements. By considering the data flow from PCB to FPGA die, optimal pinout configurations can be achieved quickly, thus reducing internal and external trace lengths and routing congestion.

Improved Management of Placement Constraints
To help users better manage dynamic placement constraints, which may be user assigned or imported from the netlist generated by the ISE Design Tools, PlanAhead 9.1 provides a simplified method for controlling constraints. Designers are now able to clear placement constraints assigned by the ISE Design Tools without affecting remaining user constraints. Designers also have the ability to selectively mark a subset of the placement constraints assigned by the ISE implementation tools to be treated as user defined constraints. The capability with PlanAhead 9.1 to better control logic preservation provides ultimate flexibility while keeping the process intuitive.

Support for Spartan-3 Generation FPGAs
In addition to supporting the latest Virtex-5 LX, LXT and SXT devices, PlanAhead 9.1 software extends device support to the company’s latest low-cost, high-volume Spartan-3 generation FPGAs including the recently introduced I/O optimized Spartan-3A and non-volatile Spartan-3AN platforms. The additional support of four new FPGA device families enables designers across a wide range of applications to take advantage of the industry unique solution offered by PlanAhead 9.1.

Pricing and Availability
Xilinx has been delivering the benefits of 65nm Virtex-5 FPGAs since May 2006, and is now shipping 12 devices across three of the four platforms (LX, LXT, and SXT). Devices may be purchased online or through Xilinx distributors.

The PlanAhead 9.1 design suite is available on all major operating systems as an option to the Xilinx ISE design suite. Single-user licenses are currently available at a promotional price of $2,495 US list.

About Xilinx
Xilinx, Inc. is the worldwide leader of programmable logic solutions.