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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Xilinx pushes dynamic reconfiguration technology

By Nick Flaherty

Being able to add new hardware to a design in the field just with a software download is one of the huge advantages of using a field programmable gate array (FPGA). Being able to do this for one element of the design without impacting on the rest - partial reconfiguration - is a key capability that has been many years coming.

Now the latest update of the Vivado design tool from leading FPGA maker Xilinx has included Partial Reconfiguration technology. This enables dynamic field updates and increased systems integration in a broad range of applications such as wired & wireless networking, test & measurement, aerospace & defense, automotive, and data centres. 

Designers can now change functionality on the fly, eliminating the need to fully reconfigure and re-establish links, dramatically enhancing the flexibility of All Programmable devices. System upgradeability & reliability are greatly enhanced by providing the ability to update feature sets in deployed systems, fix bugs, and migrate to new standards while critical functions remain active.

“The use of Partial Reconfiguration in Xilinx devices allowed us to optimize the size of the FPGA, and provide complete flexibility to maintain system connectivity while independently reconfiguring multiple ports in our design,” said Craig Palmer, senior engineering manager, Viavi Solutions.

The Partial Reconfiguration technology enables dynamic configurability by swapping portions of the design while the rest remains operational, requiring zero downtime and little impact to cost or development time.

“Partial Reconfiguration of FPGAs is a key element in Keysight’s toolbox for creating the next generation of test and measurement solutions. Partial Reconfiguration enables us to manage the ever increasing need for flexibility and complexity of test systems,” said Tom Vandeplas, senior researcherat test equipment maker Keysight Laboratories.

The Vivado Design Suite HLx Editions 2017.1 release is now available for download. Partial Reconfiguration functionality is now included at no additional cost with the Vivado HL Design Edition and HL System Edition. In-warranty users can regenerate their licenses to gain access to this feature. Partial Reconfiguration is available for Vivado WebPACK Edition at a reduced price. 

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