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High-end FPGA dev kit supports Linux

Aug 11, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 21 views

Xilinx is shipping a development kit for its Virtex-5 FXT FPGA (field-programmable gate array). The Embedded Development HW/SW Kit — Virtex-5 FX70T PowerPC and MicroBlaze Processor Edition targets communications, military, and aerospace applications, and is available with a Linux BSP (board support… package).

(Click for larger view of the Virtex-5 FX70T development kit)

In February, Xilinx shipped a similar hardware/software kit supporting its low-cost Spartan FPGAs. The new “ML507” kit steps up to the “FX70T” version of its high-end, 65nm-fabricated Virtex-5 FXT processor that was announced in April.

Xilinx ML507 development board, front and back
(Click either image to enlarge)

The Virtex-5 FXT is based on one or two embedded PowerPC 440 processor blocks, each of which integrates 32KB instruction and 32KB data caches, delivering up to a claimed 1,100 DMIPS at 550MHz. The blocks are closely integrated with a 5×2 crossbar processor interconnect architecture that is said to enable simultaneous access to I/O and memory. DSP performance runs to over 190 GMACs, claims Xilinx.

Virtex-5 FXT core block diagram

The ML507 development board appears to include the uni-core version of the FPGA, and includes 256MB DDR2, 1MB ZBT SRAM, and 32MB Linear Flash. Connectivity includes gigabit Ethernet and PCI Express, as well as dual USB ports, Serial connections, and a variety of A/V and GPIO interfaces. In addition, custom interfaces can be developed using the Virtex-5 FXT's gigabit transceivers hooked up via SMA connectors.

The kit includes Xilinx Platform Studio and the ISE Design Suite, which earlier this year was rev'd to version 10.1. The kit is said to offer a pre-built Linux image and embedded processing reference design, along with IP blocks for a DDR2 memory interface, and gigabit Ethernet. Additional features include a variety of other Linux reference designs, a library of processing IP cores, a CompactFlash device, and a USB JTAG download/debug cable, says the company.

Developers can also work with the hardware/software kit using the Xilinx Software Development Kit, an Eclipse-based development environment incorporating GNU tools, says Xilinx. A Linux BSP based on LynuxWorks BlueCat Linux 5.4.1 is also available; BlueCat Linux-ME has supported Linux development on Xilinx FPGAs with PowerPC hardcores or Microblaze softcores since 2007.

Alternative Linux distributions said to support the kit include:

  • Wind River General Purpose Platform, Linux Edition 2.0
  • MontaVista Linux 4.0 (5.0 coming soon)
  • TimeSys Linux

Virtex-5 FXT system design example

Two weeks after the Virtex-5 FXT was announced, the vendors of the above distros all announced that they would support the FPGA. At the same time, Avnet released its Linux-compatible Xilinx Virtex-5 FXT FPGA Evaluation Kit, and Lauterbach announced it was updating its Linux-compatible Trace32 software debugging and trace analysis product to support the FPGA.


The Embedded Development HW/SW Kit — Virtex-5 FX70T FPGA PowerPC & MicroBlaze Processor Edition is available now for $2,600, says Xilinx. More information may be available here.

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