Phoenix - After two years of development work, Avnet Design Services launched its Avalon Reference Design System Alliance at the DesignCon 2002 show last week in Santa Clara, Calif.
The goal is to reduce the development activity and time needed to create reference design platforms by providing modular, off-the-shelf hardware, easily integrated intellectual-property (IP) cores and a development environment with existing firmware and applications that are easily linked into supply chain and manufacturing services.
The Avalon system consists of a set of modular hardware, firmware, cores, application programs, device drivers, development tools and test equipment that can be used to create reference designs and development platforms.
Founding members of the alliance, besides Avnet Design Services, include Celoxica, Cypress Semiconductor, Denali, Develop Online, emWare, Infineon, IP Semiconductor, Micron, Motorola, National Semiconductor, Promiere, SpinCircuit, Wind River and Xilinx. Other members include AMP/Tyco, AVX, Bourns and Xicor.
The foundation of the Avalon Reference Design System is a set of compatible modular hardware modules on which reference designs are based, enabling designers to create custom designs targeted to their specific application.
Focused on communications and networking applications, Avnet Design Services offers about 20 modules including daughtercards that can be used on a standalone basis, depending on the IP core and application.
Design, tools, services
The basic building blocks of the Avalon offering are the "system modules" from which designers can choose when working on a reference design. Avnet groups these modules into three basic areas: design elements, tool elements and service elements.
The three major design elements are hardware, firmware and application code, which build the system functionality of the reference design, the company said.
Tools include CAD, test and debug tools. Services include education, design services (FPGA and ASIC) and contract manufacturing.
Early on, Avnet determined that to offer a complete system, all elements of a reference design-including hardware components, IP cores, firmware drivers, CAD development, test and debugging tools, contract manufacturing and supply chain services-must be incorporated. It was clear that such a task would mean involving multiple companies.
"A company can't offer a complete solution with just chip suppliers," said Warren Miller, vice president of marketing for Avnet Design Services, who created the concept of the Avalon Reference Design System. "A broad set of alliance members is needed to offer expertise in areas of components, design tools, intellectual property, software and supply chain management."
The result is an alliance of about 20 companies, with more to sign on in the future, from a variety of industry segments that include semiconductors, cores, firmware and software, design tools, test and debug tools, and supply chain specialists.
Over the past six months Avnet has expanded the alliance to include third-party companies that aren't necessarily on Avnet's line card as a supplier, Miller said.
Avnet Design Services "started to expand beyond the scope of focusing on the hardware side about six months ago and began pulling together all the pieces that the designers need in a Lego building-block approach to building their design," he said.
"With the hardware in place we decided that designers not only needed the hardware, they need the IP cores for the FPGAs, they need driver software for the PCI bus or embedded operating systems to control the whole board, design tools, educational facilities and a way to check their bill of materials and transfer them into manufacturing quickly," Miller said.
This system allows the designer to accelerate not only time-to-market but also time-to-manufacturing, Miller said.
He estimated that designers can reduce their design time from start to finish by about six weeks to 12 weeks, depending on the project, by avoiding some of the pitfalls of architectural choices, co-development and IP integration.
"By gathering hardware and software technology providers in various application arenas, Avnet has done much of the spadework for designers, allowing them to leapfrog some of the obstacles to successful product introductions. This helps them to avoid reinvention of the wheel and helps get better designs to market in far less time," said Jim Schaeffer, director and vice president of Avnet Design Services.
For more information on the Avalon Reference Design System, visit www.avnet.com/ em/solutions/rds.
Call (480) 643-7845
EETInfo No. 633