Tensilica(R), Inc. announced that it is now supporting Avnet LX60 FPGA boards for high-speed hardware-based simulations of its Diamond Standard processor family. Software developers can use these popular, low cost FPGA boards, which allow Diamond Standard processor cores to run on Xilinx Virtex(TM)-4 FPGAs, to speed their software design, debug and program optimization processes.
“As System On Chip designs get more complex, it’s important for design teams to complete as much of the software development as possible in parallel with the hardware development,” stated Steve Roddy, Tensilica’s vice president of marketing. “By emulating the Diamond Standard processor of their choice in an Avnet LX60 FPGA board, software developers can significantly speed up their development cycles when compared to using only software simulation methods.”
Tensilica’s Diamond Standard software developers’ toolkit (Diamond SDK) – consisting of an IDE (the Xtensa(R) Xplorer(TM) integrated design environment), code development toolchain and instruction set simulator (ISS) – works seamlessly with the Avnet LX60 boards. The Diamond software tools contain software libraries that enable software developers to use standard C library functions such as printf to print out to the host PC and read/write from the hard disk of the host PC.
Tensilica built into the Diamond SDK two powerful capabilities that let developers take maximum advantage of the Avnet LX60 FPGA board by allowing designers to gather more profiling information since they can profile their applications for a much longer time than with an ISS. First, with hardware-based profiling, the system generates an execution profile of the program allowing the developer to quickly pinpoint execution hotspots. This profile can be viewed graphically under Tensilica’s Xtensa Xplorer IDE.
Second, with feedback compilation, a developer sets a flag so the compiler collects statistics on the number of times branches (loops, jumps, etc.) are taken or not taken. The Xtensa C/C++ compiler then uses these statistics and recompiles the program to optimize (a) for speed by placing most frequently taken branches in straight-line code, and (b) for code size by compiling less frequently executed routines for code size rather than speed. The feedback-based compilation method speeds up applications between 5 to 15 percent and reduces code size by up to 15 percent.
Furthermore, the Ethernet interface on the Avnet LX60 makes the board ideal for running an operating system such as Linux and the associated TCP/IP stack and network file systems.
Diamond Standard Processors
Tensilica’s Diamond Standard processors are the industry’s broadest line of controller, CPU, and specialty DSP processors on the market today. These processor cores range from the Diamond Standard 108Mini, an ultra-low power controller with minimal gate count, to the Diamond Standard 570T, a 3-issue superscalar CPU core with twice the performance of an ARM11 (based on EEMBC benchmarks).
The Diamond Standard processors are supported by an optimized set of Diamond Standard software tools and a wide range of industry infrastructure partners ranging from top-tier ASIC and foundry partners to companies that provide operating system support, co-verification, in-circuit emulation, EDA tools, and more.
Pricing and Availability
A board support package (BSP) for the Diamond Standard processor family for the Avnet LX60 FPGA board is available now from Tensilica. Pricing starts at $3000 for the BSP package supporting the Diamond Standard 108 Mini, Diamond Standard 212GP, Diamond Standard 232L and Diamond Standard 570T processors. Tensilica customers can use the BSP on an unlimited number of low-cost Avnet LX60 boards, thus enabling development teams with large numbers of software designers to cost-effectively deploy a large number of development systems. Designers can purchase the Avnet LX60 board directly through Avnet distribution channels.
Tensilica, Inc., is the recognized leader in configurable processor technology and has leveraged that technology to become the leading supplier of licensable controllers and DSP cores for mobile audio and video applications. Tensilica offers the broadest line of controller, CPU, network, and specialty DSP processors on the market today – including full software toolchain and modeling support – in both an off-the-shelf format via the Diamond Standard Series cores and with full designer configurability with the Xtensa processor family. The modern design behind all of Tensilica’s processor cores provide semiconductor companies and system OEMs with the lowest power, smallest area solutions for high-volume products including mobile phones and other consumer electronics, networking and telecommunications equipment, and computer peripherals.
Tensilica and Xtensa are registered trademarks belonging to Tensilica, Inc. Xplorer is a trademark of Tensilica, Inc. Virtex is a trademark of Xilinx, Inc.