Saturday, April 16, 2011

BDTi Evaluation: High-Level Synthesis Tools for Xilinx FPGA and TI DSP Programing

A comparison was made between TI DM6437 programming and High-Level Synthesis Tools ( Synopsys Synphony C Compiler and AutoESL’s AutoPilot) for Xilinx FPGA.


Here is the conclusion:

"The new analysis presented here confirms this performance advantage (e.g., a 30X cost-performance advantage on the BDTI Optical Flow Workload) and shows that FPGAs can achieve similar performance and cost-performance advantages when used with high-level synthesis tools. In addition, the two high-level synthesis tools evaluated thus far (Synopsys Synphony C Compiler and AutoESL’s AutoPilot) were able to achieve a level of resource-use efficiency comparable to that achieved using hand-written RTL code. While we did not directly evaluate the time savings afforded by using the HLSTs rather than writing RTL code by hand, BDTI believe that the savings will be substantial, in part based upon our interviews with current HLST users.

FPGA designs created using traditional hand-written RTL coding typically take much more effort than the equivalent application implemented in software on a DSP processor. Therefore, perhaps the most surprising outcome of this project is that it took roughly the same effort to implement the evaluation workload on the FPGA (using either AutoPilot or Synphony C Compiler, plus the Xilinx tools) as it took on the DSP processor.

This is a significant breakthrough, and one with the potential to have a major impact on the design of highperformance embedded computing applications. Given FPGAs’ advantages in speed and cost-performance in certain types of applications, we expect that the availability of competent high-level synthesis tools will significantly change the trade-offs between DSPs and FPGAs."

BDTI also did a evaluation for "The AutoESL AutoPilot High-Level Synthesis Tool". AutoESL was acquired by Xilinx in January this year.

My development team tested with Synphony C Compiler for H.264 encoding and showed that there was still a 20% performance slowdown compared with a hand written HDL. We did significant reconstruction for C code, including memory externalization, software pipelining, single-instruction, and multiple-data operations.

Currently Catapult is the most used HSL tool among tools including Synphony C Compiler, AutoESL’s AutoPilot, and BlueSpec. BlueSpec is the most effective one so far.

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