Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dealt a new Deck

We are so excited with the release this week by Xilinx of Vivado 2014.1 . Having been involved since the dark-ages with the underpinnings of this world-class CAD tool for FPGA, we're always eager to see what's new and improved. With almost a dozen 28 nm designs under our belt, we made quick work of porting designs working on platforms like the KC705, VC709, and ZC706 from 2013.4 to 2014.1. We love that we can script in Tcl, or click in the GUI. We like to see both work equally well. We need more time to have hard quantitative evidence, but across the board we are seeing 10~20% placer run time reductions, with no loss of Quality of Results. Not sure where this gain is coming from, but we will measure and find out. This is crazy good. Thanks Xilinx!

Altera is looking to answer with their salvo of Quartus II 14.0 soon, so stay tuned. Altera does have some interesting silicon announced down the pike; and we're happy to bring our RTL to whatever devices our clients are using. Still, from a do-it-all CAD tool perspective, we lament that Quartus lacks a built-in functional simulator like Vivado. Oh well... separation of concerns!

What a world it would be if Xilinx and Altera got out of the CAD tool business and just focused on world-class FPGA silicon, leaving the EDA tools to the EDA tool vendors. Or to the open source community! It's nice to dream. Still, with tool suites like Vivado that build in aspects like IP Integrator, and IP Packager, we're glad (for now) that the FPGA vendors are in the EDA game.

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