Xilinx has announced the 8.1i release of its Integrated Software Environment (ISE) design tool suite, which features the new ISE Fmax technology with enhanced physical synthesis capabilities to improve performance and timing closure for both the Virtex-4 and Spartan-3 architectures. Using ISE 8.1i software, designers can boost performance by an average of 10 to 37 percent as compared to previous ISE releases and up to 70 percent over competing solutions using Virtex-4 FPGAs. ISE 8.1i also delivers enhancements to the industry's only partial reconfiguration technology, enabling lower cost, size and power consumption.
Offering an average of a speed grade in cost savings from the previous ISE version, the new features are aimed at high-performance system design, including designs that feature embedded processing, digital signal processing (DSP) and advanced connectivity protocols. Through the use of advanced physical synthesis capabilities in the ISE tools, designers can maximize performance throughput, accelerate time to market, and reduce overall development costs. In addition, features such as ChipScope Pro 8.1i in-silicon debug integration and more robust partial reconfiguration support further drive down development time and system costs.
Boosting performance by up to 70% over competing solutions
The new ISE Fmax technology employs efficient algorithms to improve the results of physical synthesis and logic optimization resulting in up to a 70% performance advantage for Virtex-4 FPGAs over competing devices. ISE Fmax Technology includes a full set of features for design retiming, timing-driven packing and placement, performance evaluation, and post-placement logic optimization. The ISE Xplorer utility, included with the latest release, is an easy-to-use script that helps designers evaluate and optimize the Virtex-4 and Spartan-3 FPGA performance, delivering an average of 10 percent improvement over previous releases for timing driven designs. ISE 8.1i also offers a performance evaluation mode that delivers a 37 percent out-of-the box performance improvement for designs without timing constraints.
ISE Fmax technology is complementary to synthesis optimizations from Synplicity (www.synplicity.com) and Mentor Graphics (www.mentor.com). The combination of synthesis and ISE Fmax technologies enables users to meet stringent timing goals.
Industry's only partial reconfiguration solution
With the 8.1i release, Xilinx has added a new methodology to enhance the industry's first and only partial reconfiguration solution. Partial reconfiguration reduces system cost, size, device count, and power consumption, and it is useful for a wide variety of applications, such as Software Defined Radio (SDR) and high performance computing.
Designers can now dynamically load different hardware configurations into the same area of the FPGA while the rest of the device continues running. This real-time dimension to programmability builds upon field upgradeability and multi-boot approaches that have enabled many Xilinx customers to boost system reliability with real-time diagnostics, lower field service costs and extend the lifespan of existing products in the marketplace.
Ease-of-use improves productivity
ISE 8.1i offers 37% faster push button in the performance evaluation mode, enabling quick and easy evaluation of designs without the need for constraints. ISE 8.1i also offers support for dual-core CPU workstations, enabling faster compile times and parallel processing of design jobs across multiple CPU cores.
These capabilities are further bolstered by the comprehensive XPower power analysis solution, improved web analysis capabilities in WebPower Tools 8.1i, and new power optimized routing technology. The ISE 8.1i Project Navigator and integrated ISE Simulator tool offer a new intuitive Windows XP look and feel on all platforms, making ISE 8.1i easy to learn and use.
ChipScope Pro 8.1i
The release of ChipScope Pro 8.1i provides the industry's most complete and easy to use debug solution – up to 50x times faster than simulation. The ChipScope Pro core resource estimator enables users to explore on-chip debug and verification options such as trigger width, sample depth, and advanced capabilities such as trigger sequencing and storage qualification to determine the optimal trade off between on-chip visibility and FPGA resource allocation.
Platform pricing and availability
ISE delivers programmable logic design solutions to over 200,000 users worldwide with an intuitive, front-to-back design environment for all leading-edge Xilinx product families, including Virtex-4 FPGAs, Spartan-3 Generation FPGAs, and CoolRunner-II CPLDs. All versions of ISE software packages support Windows 2000 and Windows XP and Linux Red Hat Enterprise 3.0. ISE Foundation also supports Solaris 2.8 and 2.9.
ISE 8.1i configurations are immediately available with prices ranging from a free internet download version to the fully featured version priced at $2495. ChipScope Pro tools are available immediately for $695, or users can obtain a 60-day full featured evaluation version of the tool at no charge. ISE customers can obtain partial reconfiguration capability by contacting their local FAE. For more information about ISE 8.1i and the ChipScope Pro debug and verification solution, visit www.xilinx.com/ise and www.xilinx.com/chipscopepro, respectively.