A "C Change" — from Linux to FPGAs and Processors

We’re having that nirvana-like dream where one imagines programming FPGAs in a high-level language such as C and not having to deal with any of that semiconductor stuff. A fantasy? Not according to Impulse Accelerated Technology, who assert that their software-to- tools now work with BlueCat from LynuxWorks. According to the company, the Impulse C-to-FPGA tools enable software developers to write C algorithms and easily “refactor them for parallel processing on an FPGA.” The companies claim a 10 – 100x performance increase in image, signal, and data processing algorithms.The concept here is three-fold: program in C (thank heavens!), do some load balancing across parallel resources, and provide hooks into Linux.

The tool allows using C-language directly into optimized logic ready for use with popular FPGA devices. Developers can rapidly prototype mixed software/hardware systems and perform design iterations in just minutes or hours, instead of days or weeks. The Impulse CoDeveloper is essentially a C-based hardware accelerator that targets Xilinx APU and FSL interfaces with only a minimal rewrite between targets. There’s C-language compilation, optimization, and FPGA hardware generation. Also included are targets for Xilinx PowerPC and MicroBlaze processors, as well as the relevant interconnects. As well, the tools take advantage of LynuxWorks’ BlueCat port to the Xilinx processors, essentially allowing a developer to work in C, create FPGA logic, and also program the FPGA’s processors. Yes, indeed. Several steps closer to FPGA nirvana.

Topics covered in this article