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Choosing the Right Opensource FPGA Design for Your Application

There are several benefits to opensource FPGA designs. First, unlike other semiconductor technologies, we can freely use opensource FPGA designs. The best ones will include design documentation, examples of Core use, and timing diagrams of interfaces. You will also find test programs, which you can use to verify and optimize the design. But what is the difference between open source and proprietary FPGA designs? How do you choose the right one for your application?

Xilinx’s Vitis

The Vitis opensource FPGA platform supports many applications and architectures, including Xilinx Zynq SoCs, MPSoCs, and Versal ACAPs. In addition, its unified software platform allows users to leverage a single programming model for edge computing, cloud computing, and hybrid computing, allowing developers to develop new applications quickly.

The Vitis target platform defines the basic hardware and software architecture of the FPGA accelerators and manages the communication between x86 application code and the FPGA accelerators. In addition, the system includes the processor’s boot loader, root file system, and drivers for peripherals. We can deploy the Vitis target platform using Xilinx evaluation boards, or users can define their custom target platforms using Vivado Design Suite.

The Xilinx Vitis opensource FPGA development platform is a five-year effort. The goal is to make FPGA development easier for non-programmers by making it compatible with familiar languages. Programming FPGAs can be difficult and require a good knowledge of hardware and complex languages. With a unified development environment, however, it will be possible to develop various applications with less effort.

Using a unified software platform like Vitis, developers can simulate FPGA designs without knowing anything about FPGAs. In addition, this opensource FPGA platform works on Xilinx devices, so designers can benefit from the same capabilities as seasoned FPGA experts without learning the nuances of hardware. If you haven’t gotten the chance to try Vitis yet, I recommend doing so.

Xilinx’s Vitis AI development environment lets developers fully leverage FPGA acceleration for AI inference and other performance-critical functions. Its comprehensive libraries and tools support leading deep learning frameworks and provide comprehensive APIs for pruning and optimizing trained neural networks. In addition, its opensource quantizer makes it easier to integrate advanced algorithms into a Vitis AI development environment.

Intel’s OneAPI

Intel has released a toolkit that expands the oneAPI framework and provides greater architectural choice to ease software development for heterogeneous computing and high-performance applications. OneAPI consists of a base toolkit and domain-specific add-ons that simplify programming and deliver uncompromised performance. Complementary optimization tools are also available to help developers get the most out of the platform.

The new technology depends on DPC++, a cross-architecture programming language that extends ISO C++ and Khronos SYCL to support data parallelism and heterogeneous programming. In addition, developers can access the free DevCloud service, which provides software engineers with a cloud-based development environment to test and develop their software tools. The software is hardware-agnostic and open source, and it can support a variety of programming languages and architectures.

Rayming PCB & Assembly can create applications on FPGA hardware using the tools and libraries provided by the oneAPI Base Toolkit. Developers can choose from various architectures to build their applications, and Intel’s OneAPI enables them to select appropriate hardware to run their programs. Unlike other opensource tools, oneAPI lets developers customize applications to fit their needs while also providing the flexibility to build on the latest Intel hardware.

The OneAPI Base Toolkit can help developers optimize computing and hardware for 3D use cases. This toolkit supports many open source FPGA applications in enterprise and data center environments. It includes tools such as Open Image Denoise, Embree, Volume Kernel Library, and OpenSWR and provides a community of engineers to answer questions and help developers improve their software.

Lattice’s iCE40

The Lattice iCE40 FPGA has become more accessible than ever, thanks to the IceStick evaluation board. This board is part of the iCE40 FPGA family, which is free to download. In addition, the IceStorm toolkit includes a compiler for Verilog designs and an interface for uploading them to the iCE40.

The iCE40 can work with various applications, including embedded systems, soft-CPU systems, and 3D printers. It is also compatible with most low-cost USB peripherals. Several projects by Lattice have led to opensource development boards and flows. The company has a strict policy against reverse engineering bitstream formats and signaling protocols, but that isn’t stopping many people from learning to use these tools.

The ULX3S is available in four variants: the 12k LUT Lattice ECP5 FPGA and the 84k LUT ULX3S. ULX3S is a popular choice for maker-type FPGA dev boards. Its low cost per part, small footprint, and high power efficiency make it an excellent choice for compact layouts. Other FPGA chips made by Lattice are Fomu, iCEBreaker, and OrangeCrab.

If you are interested in creating your FPGA designs, the iCE40 is a great tool. Its low-cost iCE40 FPGA is a perfect example of the FPGA hardware that we can use with opensource tools. In addition, the iCE40 is compatible with several FPGA families, making it a highly affordable and accessible option for low-cost designs.

YOSYS

Yosys is a framework for RTL synthesis tools that counts broad Verilog compatibility. In addition, the framework provides a basic set of synthesis algorithms for different application domains. The release note states that the project is still in active development to provide a “free Swiss Army knife for RTL synthesis.”

In addition to a wide range of FPGAs, the YOSYS opensource synthesis tool is retargetable. It ships with mature flows for Lattice iCE40 FPGAs and experimental flows for many more. In addition, Yosys supports ASIC synthesis from liberty cell library files. Despite this, some of its limitations are not yet fully implemented.

Apio, the Python-based IDE that controls the low-level tools, is a crucial component of Yosys. This tool is analogous to an Arduino IDE. Python 3.5+ is required, and you can download and install it from the Python website. If you are new to Python, the software comes with a complete installation guide, making it a breeze to get started.

Historically, FPGA users have only had access to proprietary tools that locked them into one vendor’s devices. But in recent years, Open Source FPGA tools have surpassed these proprietary tools and reached commercial quality. This has made FPGA development much easier and cheaper than ever before. As a result, you can now design and manufacture FPGA-based products for various applications. So, get started on the next generation of hardware.

Renesas announced the ForgeFPGA family of low-power FPGAs, which will ship for 50 cents in volume. Renesas acquired Dialog Semiconductors last August, which designed the GreenPAK programmable mixed-signal matrix.

Versal ACAP

Unlike a typical FPGA or SoC, Versal ACAP is an adaptable hardware platform that’s entirely software programmable. The developer toolchain includes software tools, libraries, and run-time stacks. Developers can access all of these features at boot time. The Versal ACAP architecture is not the same as a traditional FPGA, and there are differences in how it works with multi-core architecture and SoCs.

This FPGA architecture depends on the Xilinx Virtex family. The Virtex-V architecture is highly integrated, with each Versal ACAP having two Arm real-time and application processors. In addition, Xilinx offers a wide range of programmable hardware platforms, enabling developers to integrate their software on the chip. These platforms support a wide range of programming languages and are compatible with existing tools, including VHDL, C++, and Java.

The Versal ACAP opensource FPGA platform works with the Xilinx VCK5000 Versal Development Card. It simplifies the development process by reducing the number of tools needed for development. The Versal ACAP platform includes the Xilinx VC1902 Adaptive Compute Acceleration Platform, a hybrid of an FPGA and system-on-chip processor complex. This opensource platform supports all of the Versal ACAP chips and allows migration to other chips with different characteristics.

The Versal ACAP can work with Linux and C/C++ compilers. In addition, it’s compatible with other Xilinx boards and third-party FPGA modules. The Vitis Software Platform also has to debug features that make development easier. In addition to this, Versal ACAPs are also available for other Xilinx boards and third-party FPGA modules.