This week at Design West in San Jose—the conference formerly known as the Embedded Systems Conference—EETimes gave out ACE awards to the year’s outstanding companies, people, and products. Two of the ACE winners have something in common.
The first winner, in the SoC category, is the Xilinx Zynq 7000 Extensible Processing Platform (EPP). This chip melds a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processing complex with a number of extremely useful hard peripheral blocks and a good chunk of FPGA fabric connected to the ARM Cortex-A9 processor complex through multiple I/O ports. For more information on the Xilinx Zynq 7000 EPP, see “Xilinx Zynq EPPs create a new category that fits in among SoCs, FPGAs, and microcontrollers.” Here’s a block diagram of the Xilinx Zunq 7000 EPP:
The other winner, in the Software category, is the Cadence Virtual System Platform, which enables pre-RTL (and pre-silicon) software development by facilitating the development of fast virtual prototypes using any mixture fast processor models, TLM models, and RTL.
Based on that description, you might think that the Cadence Virtual System Platform would mate up ideally with the Xilinx Zynq 7000 EPP. Xilinx thought so as well, so there’s a special version of the Cadence Virtual System Platform that’s tailored for the Xilinx Zynq 7000 EPP. You can get more information about that product here.
Now it’s reasonable to ask why anyone might need a Zynq 7000 Virtual Platform when the silicon is now available. A big reason is that real hardware prototypes cost money to develop and build, so in the early days of system-level architectural exploration, you’d really rather not build hardware if you don’t need to. At this phase, a Virtual Platform saves time and money.
Another good reason is that once a system architecture has been developed, final software development can begin immediately—even before the hardware is built.
Finally, you can ship a Virtual Platform over the Internet to any software developer—or any number of software developers—anywhere in the world in seconds.
Try doing that with an actual hardware prototype.
There’s probably not a system-development company in the world that has not experienced the pain of prototypes hung up in customs, lost in transit, or broken on arrival when shipping these precious, fragile prototype boards around the world. That simply does not happen with a Virtual Prototype.
Here’s a video of the award-winning Cadence Virtual System Platform in action: