Former UK defense unit offers floating-point unit for FPGAs
Malvern, England -- A floating-point co-processor unit (FPU) that is compatible with both the MicroBlaze and PowerPC processors in Virtex-II Pro field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) is available from the real-time systems laboratory of Qinetiq,
Qinetiq is the commercial spin-off from Britain's Defence Evaluation Research Agency, and its real-time system laboratory, here, is now chartered to merge its past research with conventional processor technology and reconfigurability to deliver signal and image processing components and systems to commercial and military markets.
MicroBlaze is a 'soft' 32-bit RISC for Virtex-II and Virtex-II Pro FPGAs from Xilinx Inc. In addition, Virtex-II Pro devices come with up to four embedded PowerPC 405 processors. Both MicroBlaze and the PPC405 cores are integer-only processors with floating-point support provided by way of software emulation, Qinetiq said.
When combined with the Microblaze microprocessor, the so-called 'Quixilica' co-processor produces a sustained performance of 50-MFLOPS (million floating point operations per second) and peak performance of up to 100-MFLOPS on the XC2V1000-4 at 100-MHz clock frequency, the company estimates.
An updated version of the MicroBlaze GNU C compiler has been developed by NA Software Ltd., of Liverpool, England, that allows application software to target the FPU directly and which can accelerate floating point-intensive functions by over 35 times the original speed, after recompilation of the source, Qinetiq said.
NA Software has developed a library of optimized vector processing functions further performance improvement is possible through manual optimization of the code and by use of the library.
"We're already seeing applications in image and signal processing systems, control, and support of legacy hardware, where the combination of an FPGA with an embedded microprocessor core and the FPU can provide the functionality and performance of an entire DSP subsystem," said Bill Smith, manager of QinetiQ's real-time systems laboratory, in statement.
QinetiQ's real-time systems laboratory comprises a team of 18 engineers.