Mentor Graphics Corporation (Nasdaq:MENT) and Altera (Nasdaq:ALTR) created a design flow for implementing complex DSP algorithms in high-performance FPGAs directly from industry standard ANSI C++. The design flow, based on Altera’s Accelerated Libraries for Mentor Graphics’ Catapult® C Synthesis tool, delivers 50-80% DSP Fmax performance improvements, provides a low-effort path to dedicated DSP hardware creation, and gives companies a cost-per-channel advantage over expensive, power-hungry discrete digital signal processors for high-performance applications.
The Catapult C/Altera DSP design solution is a C-to-RTL design flow that closely resembles the traditional DSP software programming flow. In both flows, algorithm designers develop a floating-point model of an algorithm, and then convert that to a fixed-point model, typically in C++. At this point in the traditional flow, software developers compile the C code for an off-the-shelf DSP. With the Catapult C/Altera flow, a hardware designer would use the Catapult C Synthesis tool with Altera’s Accelerated Libraries to automatically create a DSP hardware implementation for an Altera FPGA. Unlike before, the hardware designer does not need to manually write the RTL code, worry about hand-coded errors, or re-write RTL code numerous times to find an architecture that delivers reasonable performance. The Catapult C/Altera solution automates the RTL creation process, delivering hardware performance with the flexibility of a DSP software programming flow.
Altera’s Accelerated Libraries for Catapult C Synthesis are the cornerstone of te new design flow. The libraries enable the Catapult C Synthesis tool to perform ASIC-like optimizations and advanced, technology-aware scheduling for unique DSP macro IP found in the Altera’s most advanced FPGA technologies. The result is designs that operate 50-80% faster than results previously achieved by any high level synthesis tool. These performance levels even surpass RTL synthesis tools, a unique accomplishment considering the ANSI C++ source is of a much higher abstraction than RTL.