New development environment added to SoC-based PC/104 single-board computer

18-02-2016 | Sundance | Design & Manufacture

Sundance Multiprocessor Technology has announced that it has integrated
Xilinx’s new SDSoC development environment on to its EMC2-Z7030 single-board
computer (SBC). Sundance’s EMC2 range is a family of industrial-grade and
deployment-ready SBC’s that feature a Xilinx Zynq SoC with integrated
dual-core ARM-A9 CPUs coupled to 1Gb of DDR3 memory, four-lanes of
PCI-Express and re-programmable logic with Kintex-7 FPGA technology. The
EMC2 range is designed to the latest, yet long-established, PC/104 form
factor of 90mm by 96mm, called OneBank.

The Xilinx SDSoC development environment has a full, system-optimizing C/C++
compiler that allows system and software engineers to take full advantage of
the speed increase offered by running processing intensive algorithms on the
Programmable Logic (PL) of the Zynq Z7030. The new development flow offers a
familiar software development environment using an Eclipse-based GUI,
programming in C/C++ and debugging from the ARM-A9 CPUs, called the
Processing System (PS). SDSoC offers profiling, estimation and
hardware/software event traces to help developers optimize the system
performance while seamlessly generating the full Zynq SoC system with
hardware accelerated IPs, data motion network and software BSPs, says the
company.

“The combination of Sundance’s EMC2 boards and the Xilinx SDSoC development
environment is another significant step forward for embedded systems design,
enabling systems engineers to take advantage of the Zynq SoC’s combination
of a popular ARM-A9 CPU and the flexible and fast I/O associated with FPGA
technology,” said Flemming Christensen, managing director, Sundance
Multiprocessor Technology Ltd.

“While the Zynq SoC provides potential for implementing a powerful hardware
accelerated system, it requires many disciplines across hardware, system and
software engineers. The SDSoC offers the benefit of being able to gain
performance by seamlessly moving algorithms into FPGA fabric from C/C++
applications, a game-changer for programmable embedded systems. Not only
will the SDSoC environment significantly shorten the time-to-market for Zynq
designs, it also opens the door to a new class of users who have been in
traditional SoC domains developing primarily in software.”

Although the EMC2 concept, with an environment like SDSoC, is not entirely
new, it is extremely cost effective. Sundance previously co-developed a
similar board called HARP-2 in the early 1990’s that combined a 32-bit Inmos
CPU with a Xilinx XC3195 FPGA. It was supported by Handle-C, initially
developed by Oxford University and commercialized by Celoxica. The biggest
problems with this solution, and hence its limited adoption, were its
$100,000 per seat price tag and the requirement for detailed FPGA/VHDL
knowledge. In comparison, Xilinx’s SDSoC can be easily used by any
experienced C programmer and the EMC2-Z7030, with its dual-core ARM-A9 and
Kintex-7 FPGA bundled with a commercial license for the Xilinx SDSoC
environment, giving it the potential to make a significant impact in
embedded systems design.

Mark Jensen, director of corporate software strategy, Xilinx, added: “The
EMC2-Z7030, combined with the Xilinx SDSoC development environment, offers a
total, industrial-grade and deployment-ready PC/104 embedded computing
solution for varied applications that can benefit from the flexible concept
of the Zynq SoC with integrated dual-core ARM-A9 and Kintex-7 FPGA fabric.
The addition of a VITA57.1 FMC-LPC makes it easy to migrate R&D efforts from
Xilinx’s development bread-board to a fully rugged environment, be it air,
land, sea or space. The SDSoC development environment and Sundance EMC2
board bundle is an ideal combination that is especially attractive for
embedded systems design.”

The EMC2-Z7030 benefits significantly from the PC/104 stackable concept that
allows multiple EMC2 boards to be integrated into a multi-processing
ARM/FPGA system, using PCI Express for inter-connection between each SBC.
The concept is being developed by Sundance as part of $100 million
industry-wide EU R&D project into Embedded Multi-Core Systems for Mixed
Criticality.

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