I just heard that the folks at Stone Ridge Technology have integrated their mega-cool FPGA board and development kit with the popular Impulse C toolset from Impulse Accelerated Technologies.
The integration enables software developers to write HLL (high level language) algorithms that rapidly compile to optimized RTL (run time language) targeting Stone Ridge’s RDX-11 FPGA board and development kit. They say that, for designs with significant non-sequential logic, the speed improvements can be 10 – 100x. Also that, compared to hand coded RTL methodologies, the design entry can take two thirds the time and iterations one eighth the time ("Cool Beans," as we French say :-)
According to recent research, up to 1/3 of design teams are considering using an HLL to develop applications for hardware. The most common languages mentioned are C-based. The reasons given are time to prototype, plentiful existing intellectual property, and the fact that the increasing gate count of modern FPGAs makes manual design methods too slow for populating entire systems on a chip. Users from NASA to Wall Street are deploying HLL programmed FPGAs for applications such as image capture and financial feed processing.
Applications currently in use at Stone Ridge using ImpulseC center around high-speed feeds of data, images or signals. The integration to the new RDX development kit brings to reconfigurable computing C programmable cutting-edge FPGA technology with high bandwidth and ample memory to achieve maximum processing power. Specifically regarding accelerated network processing, Stone Ridge boards work with Impulse C to enable software developers to move critical path network interface processes to hardware, where they run faster in multiple streams without the overhead of an operating system.
This integration provides C based links to hardware features and busses on the FPGA and RDX-11 board such that software developers can accelerate on the board without writing hardware controllers. Processes run as custom streaming cores in dedicated FPGA hardware without an operating system, to maximize throughput and reduce power consumption. Packet data integrity is increased when compared to microprocessor based single- or dual-stream solutions.
"Many of our customers were interested in C-based tools. Impulse is a natural choice because of its broad based adoption across many industries and its place in the market."
commented Vincent Natoli, President of Stone Ridge Technology; he continued "We think the option of C-based algorithm development via Impulse’s products will open the door to high performance reconfigurable computing on FPGAs to many groups not trained in HDL’s. Network processing solutions in particular, which we’ve investigated in some detail, will benefit from ANSI-C configurable hardware accelerated solutions that can shave off 10’s of microseconds of latency and deliver improved robustness under load."
The Stone Ridge/Impulse collaboration is an example of hardware/software co-design where the computational resources are optimized for the software problem being addressed. System teams can contact Stone Ridge and Impulse to evaluate this high-throughput, high-data integrity solution for their specific applications.
Developers can purchase Impulse C or Stone Ridge boards from the respective manufacturers. Also, Impulse and Stone Ridge have preconfigured systems available that include all the hardware and software a development team will need to create a first application and connect it up to a datastream. Systems come with 8 hours of remote training and the option of having algorithms professionally refactored for multi-streaming parallelism. On-site training and installation are available.