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Altium announces Virtex-II Pro plug-in daughter board for its NanoBoard platform.

Altium Limited (ASX:ALU), a developer of Windows-based electronics design software, has announced a new plug-in daughter board supporting the Xilinx Virtex-II Pro FPGA as part of a comprehensive FPGA daughter board release for its LiveDesign-enabled FPGA-based development platform, the NanoBoard. Altium's NanoBoard is unique among FPGA development boards in that the target device is housed on a swappable daughter board, allowing engineers to develop for a variety of devices using the same platform.

The new Virtex-II Pro daughter board incorporates a Xilinx XC2VP7-6FG456C FPGA that contains 11,088 logic cells arranged in 4,928 CLB slices. The device features a 'hard' Power PC 405 processor core and four high-speed Rocket-IO transceivers to provide a high-performance, fully-embedded systems platform. Direct access to two of the Rocket-IO transceivers on the chip is provided by eight gold-plated coaxial connectors mounted across the top of the daughter board. The board comes with four coax loop-back connector cables for the transceivers, and includes Nexar design examples showing the use of the transceiver channels.

The Virtex-II Pro daughter board plugs into Altium's NanoBoard, which interfaces to Altium's Nexar design software that allows the interactive development of complete systems, including processor-based design, on an FPGA platform. The Nexar design methodology--LiveDesign--enables real-time communication with active devices in the circuit, such as processor cores and virtual instruments, that are running inside the target FPGA. The NanoBoard and target daughter board act as a nano-level breadboard that allows interactive, 'live' development and debugging of systems without the need for simulation at the system level. The NanoBoard can also be used with

Altium's Protel 2004 board-level design system for interactive FPGA hardware development. Altium will provide complete design support for the new Virtex-II Pro in its Nexar development system. This includes a full embedded software development toolchain for the immersed Power PC core. Based on Altium's professional-level TASKING Viper compiler framework, the toolchain includes a highly-optimizing C compiler and source-level debugger for the MCU. The software development toolchain is fully integrated with the Nexar development environment, allowing designers to fully utilize the core within the LiveDesign process. The Power PC core itself is represented in the system as a component that can be incorporated into the design at the block diagram level, and combined with the other FPGA-based components to facilitate rapid systems development.

Nexar also includes constraint files that map the FPGA pinout on the daughter board to the relevant NanoBoard resources, allowing easy targeting of a design for the Virtex-II Pro. The FPGA-based components supplied with Nexar, including its range of processor peripherals and generic logic blocks, have been pre-synthesized and pre-verified to support all target devices, including the Virtex-II Pro.

"With its integrated Power PC core, the Virtex-II Pro is a unique device with enormous potential in high-end systems development," commented Nick Martin, founder and Joint CEO of Altium. "I believe that this new daughter board, combined with Nexar and its integrated, intuitive LiveDesign development methodology, unlocks the potential of this device for a wide cross-section of engineers and applications."

Altium's Xilinx Virtex-II Pro FPGA daughter board is priced at US$695 and is available immediately.

Altium's NanoBoard is priced at US$995 and is currently delivered with two daughter boards--the Xilinx Spartan-IIE (XC2S300EPQ208) and Altera Cyclone.
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Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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