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Date: 03-03-11

ARM Cortex A9 and FPGA in single chip for embedded board design

The hot trend among electronic system designers today is using ARM Cortex based processor in embedded systems and also using FPGA chip for the advantage of hardware flexibility and performance. Xilinx goes further in this hot trend by bringing to market a SoC chip integrated with both ARM Cortex and high density FPGA. This is clearly addressing more than Moore trend.

Xilinx has mixed and matched a set of hardwired VLSI functions and the programmable FPGA blocks inside a single die semiconductor device. So you have a single chip with both ARM Cortex, lot of key peripherals and more than sufficient FPGA blocks. Xilinx calls this family Zynq, sounding similar to metal 'Zinc' which enhances the performance of so many things such as batteries, alloys etc. Xilinx see similar effect from its Zynq devices in electronics system design market. Whether its Xilinx or any other semiconductor vendor, smart mix and match of functions on a single chip is the trend today. First mover will always have advantage, and so is the Xilinx. We can expect more such product not only from other FPGA vendors but also from leading ASIC and ASSP vendors.

Zynq is a magic device for those who love to use set of hard VLSI cores with FPGA, particularly for those who are addicted to ARM processor. There are plenty of applications the ARM and FPGA combined chips can address.

Here are the key features of these devices:

Dual ARM Cortex A9 MP Core with NEON extensions: 800MHz single and double precision floating point support.
Integrated Memory Mapped Peripherals: 8 DMA Channels, 2x USB 2.0 (OTG) w/DMA
2x Tri-mode Gigabit Ethernet w/DMA, 2x SD/SDIO w/DMA, 2x UART, 2x CAN
2.0B, 2x I2C, 2x SPI, 32b GPIO
High BW Memory Interfaces:
Internal: L1 Cache - 32KB/32K, L2 Cache - 512KB Unified, On-Chip Memory of 256KB and
Integrated Memory Controllers: DDR2, DDR3, LPDDR2, 2xQSPI, NOR, NAND Flash
On-chip Analog: Integrated ADCs, dual 12-bit A/D converter up to 1Msps
Zynq-7000 Device family consists of four devices: 7010, 7020, 7030, 7040 (in the order of higher logic gate density upto 30K-235K logic cells.
Employs AMBA and AXI interface: Open Standard Interconnect Enabled by AXI
High Bandwidth Interconnect between Processing System and Programmable Logic
ACP port for enhanced Hardware Acceleration and cache coherency for additional Soft processors.
Up to 12 Transceivers operating at up to 10.3Gbs and supports popular protocols such
as PCIe Gen1/2/3.

This picture below tells more than the words above

The strongly suggested applications include Automotive Driver Assistance, Factory Automation, and Broadcast Camera. There are much more apps covering nearly every area of embedded system applications.

Embedded software and other development tool support is available from companies such as Wind River, CodeSourcery, Patalogix, Lauterbach, Green Hills, Micrium, ISE, Synopsys , Cadence and Mentor Graphics.

Price: Starts at <US$15 for volume purchase
Availability: First silicon devices in second half of 2011 with general engineering samples in the first half of 2012.

Editorial Product Rating: *** (High Value)

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