Electronic Design

Are Two Reconfigurable CPUs Twice As Good As One?

Reconfigurable processors offer a dynamic approach to system optimization. QuickLogic's QuickMIPS combines a MIPS core with an FPGA, but some applications need even more computing horsepower. That's why QuickLogic teamed up with Pact XPP Technologies to deliver a reconfigurable parallel-processing solution.

The XPP-SDP System Development Platform's PCI board combines QuickLogic's QL901M and PACT's XPP64-A. The 64-MHz XPP64-A is built from an 8-by-8 array of 24-bit ALU-PAEs (processing array elements). Sixteen RAM-PAEs provide working memory. Four I/O interfaces link the XPP64-A with the 133-MHz QL901M and other devices.

The XPP64-A's array processing architecture is well suited for handling streaming audio and video, wireless communication, image-processing, and other high-speed data. The Configuration Manager handles the internal interconnect and PAE setup. Data-flow algorithms are implemented using Pact's Native Mapping Language (NML).

Both processors are dynamically reconfigurable, enabling the hardware to adapt to changing requirements or new algorithms. In many instances, it's useful to reconfigure the XPP64-A as part of the algorithm. The QuickMIPS FPGA can also be reconfigured dynamically.

QuickMIPS FPGA development is performed using QuickLogic's QuickWorks. The HDL-based design can be run on the company's VHDL simulator. Linux drivers for FPGA and XPP64-A are incorporated. The QL901M's FPGA packs 2016 macrocells consisting of over 530 kgates. It also has two Ethernet interfaces and a PCI interface.

QuickLogic has delivered its Linux software development package for programming the MIPS core as well. This is provided free of charge and royalties. Based on the 2.4.20 Linux kernel, it supports the QuickMIPS product line, including the QL902M, QL903M, and QL904M devices. Third-party tools such as Green Hills' Multi and Mentor's Codelab support the QuickMIPS family, too.

The XPP-SDP System Development Platform, priced at $25,000, includes the XPP-XDS XPP Development Suite.

QuickLogic Corp.

Pact XPP Technologies Corp.

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