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Linux-friendly FPGA vendor offers free IP cores

Jan 15, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Xilinx has sweetened the pie for FPGA customers using its royalty-free soft-core. The MicroBlaze soft-core gained an optional MMU (memory management unit) last fall, for “full” Linux compatibility, and is now bundled with free 10/100 Ethernet, serial UART, I2C, and FPU (floating point unit) IP cores.

Xilinx offers low-end “Spartan” and high-end “Virtex” FPGAs. Some models integrate PowerPC-based hard-cores, while others are meant to run soft-cores. The company's own MicroBlaze soft-core is included under a royalty-free license with Xilinx's $500 “Embedded Development Kit” (EDK), which supports application development on both hard- and soft-core based Xilinx FPGAs.

Last fall, Xilinx added the option of an MMU to MicroBlaze — a move aimed letting users run complex OSes such as full Linux on MicroBlaze-based FPGAs. Now, the company has added four additional royalty-free IP cores to the EDK, including:

  • 10/100 Ethernet MAC Lite
  • Single precision floating-point unit
  • UART (universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter) 16450/16550 controller
  • IIC (inter-integrated circuit, aka “I2C”) interface

The above IP cores connect via the 32-128 bit PLB (processor local bus) added to MicroBlaze v7 release last fall. All can be licensed at “no additional charge,” Xilinx says.

Tim Erjavec, director of embedded and DSP marketing at Xilinx, stated, “The EDK now includes over 40 popular cores that can be used for PowerPC and MicroBlaze processor systems. Using the EDK suite of no-fee IP cores, designers can select and build an unlimited number of configurations and not incur the additional costs associated with traditional IP license agreements.”


The no-fee IP cores are available now, with Xilinx's $500 EDK version 9.2, which supports Windows XP, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Solaris development hosts. On the target side, Linux should be well-supported, especially by commercial offerings such as LynuxWorks's Bluecat-ME (MicroBlaze Edition).

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