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Date: 8th May 2011

The new floating point co-processor from BittWare for FPGAs

BittWare has announced the Anemone floating point co-processor chip for use with Altera's high performance FPGAs. OEM'd from Adapteva's new Epiphany architecture targets signal processing applications. Each Anemone features 16 processors, providing 32 GFLOPS of floating point processing while consuming 2 Watts of total chip power. Multiple Anemones can be gluelessly connected to scale up to create compute blocks of up to 4096 processors providing 8 TFLOPs of floating point performance.

Availability will be via the soon to be announced Anemone product family of COTS boards which combine this new technology with Altera's high-density Stratix family of FPGAs in form factors such as FMC (VITA 57), AdvancedMC (AMC), VPX (VITA 46/48/65), and PCI Express (PCIe) slot card.

"It seems like our industry has not demonstrated much creativity in the past few years, and processing improvements have only come at the expense of increasingly ridiculous power consumption, which has in turn created burdensome cooling problems," stated Jeff Milrod, BittWare President & CEO. "We believe that Adapteva's Epiphany architecture represents a flash of brilliance that reintroduces some much needed creativity into the embedded signal processing world. The resulting Anemone chip, combined with Altera's family of FPGAs, creates an insanely cool solution for complex signal processing tasks that can be optimized for power, performance, and productivity."

"This joint C and RTL solution of Anemone plus Altera FPGAs provides users with the unique ability to partition algorithms into hardware or software, enabling them to design a thoroughly optimized system solution with superior development productivity and unmatched system size, weight, and power," said David Gamba, director of Altera's military business unit. "BittWare is once again providing our COTS customers with an incredibly powerful solution for their signal processing applications."

Anemone was architected specifically for complex signal processing rather than for I/O, protocol processing, memory interfacing, or special functions. Each eCore processor features a compact, general-purpose instruction to ensure program efficiency. All floating point computations are performed as single-precision IEEE 754; hardware looping is also supported. Anemone offers distributed and segmented memory, and large uniform register files. On-chip distributed shared memory is 4 Mb (32 KByte per eCore) with 32 GBytes/sec of sustained memory bandwidth within each eCore. The cache-less shared memory architecture is extended off-chip, and between chips, via external I/O links.

The Anemone features an internal high-throughput mesh network, with separate data paths for on-chip and off-chip communications. Each eCore processor has a multi-channel DMA engine to support background data movement over the 'eMesh'. Total on-chip, inter-core bandwidth is 128 GBytes/sec full duplex, with an additional 8 GBytes/sec of off-chip bandwidth. Each router node can simultaneously sustain full-duplex transfers on all ports, with automatic routing based on global addressing.

The Anemone provides a flexible low-overhead external interconnect scheme that supports memory-mapped direct connection of multiple Anemones and is compatible with any LVDS capable FPGA. This is achieved via 4 Links that are full-duplex 8-bit LVDS data ports @ 500 MHz DDR, each simultaneously providing 1 GByte/sec in each direction for a total off-chip bandwidth of 8 GBytes/sec. Its FPGA co-processor use model provides the ultimate flexibility: since all external I/O goes through an FPGA, system designers can customize the I/O to their application's specific requirements.

The Anemone supports execution of applications written in regular ANSI-C langauge and does not require any C-subset, language extensions, or SIMD. Standard GNU development tools are supported including an optimizing C complier, simulator, GDB debugger, and Eclipse multi-core IDE.

The Anemone will be available from BittWare on standard COTS boards, including FMC (VITA 57), AdvancedMC (AMC), VPX (VITA 46/48/65), and PCI Express (PCIe) slot cards starting in Q3. Development boards, software and systems will also be available.

Xilinx 7 series FPGA
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