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Xilinx buys high-level synthesis tool vendor

Posted: 02 Feb 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:high-level synthesis tools  AutoPilot  higher level of abstraction in C  C++ or SystemC 

Xilinx Inc. has acquired high-level synthesis vendor AutoESL Design Technologies Inc. while not revealing the financial terms of the acquisition.

The San Jose, California-based programmable logic vendor believes that it must enlarge its technology foundation and product portfolio to include high-level synthesis to be able to serve more companies whose system architects and hardware designers work at a higher level of abstraction in C, C++ and System C. According to the company, it will absorb most of AutoESL's 25 employees based in Cupertino, California and Beijing.

Tom Feist, senior marketing director at Xilinx, said the acquisition is part of a strategy by Xilinx to grow the leading programmable logic vendor at the expense of competing products like DSPs, where designers are accustomed to designing at a higher level of abstraction.

"There are a finite number of people out there who do VHDL and Verilog," Feist said. "High-level synthesis doesn't completely solve that problem, but you can develop a system with far fewer people who are the RTL guys."

High-level synthesis tools have been used for about 20 years, mostly for ASIC design. But despite the promise of high-level synthesis for improving the efficiency of the design flow, the technology has yet to be adopted on a large scale.

Xilinx plans to make AutoESL's technology available to Xilinx customers as an option to Xilinx's ISE design suite.

Feist said Xilinx has been investing in high-level synthesis companies for more than 10 years. Prior to the acquisition of AutoESL, Xilinx had been an investor in the firm through its technology growth fund, Feist said. He added that Xilinx has also invested in other high-level synthesis start-ups, including Synfora Inc., which was acquired by Synopsys Inc. last year.

"Over the years we've done a large investment out of the Xilinx venture fund out of the start-ups," Feist said. "We spent over $10 million [Rs.45.87 crore] in investments trying to nurture these companies to get the technology to the place where it would get the results someone was looking for."

In 2006, Xilinx launched an ESL initiative with a goal to help the industry improve quality of results, simplify and abstract design flows, establish interoperability and improve embedded processing flows.

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