Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

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I am reposting after a memo from reader siting problems using the
Xilinx link to post to this group.  Sorry about any problems this may
have caused.

After the release of Alliance 3 support was no longer offered
for the XC3xxx family.  Worse, if you did not happen to
have the original software that supported these
devices, Xilinx would not sell you a copy.  Even today we
still have product that uses the 3xxx family.

I am looking at upgrading our group to Allience 5.x
and again see that Xilinx has dropped all support for
Spartan.  Other families were dropped as well. We would
now need three copies of software running to
support the Xilinx devices we use. Of course, not all
the Xilinx tools like to be co-installed, so it's multiple
computers or swap installs.

Xilinx, what is your problem?  Altera may drop parts, but
their router continues to support all of their devices.
Is your software so poorly written that it is so difficult
to maintain parts that you need to drop them?  I could understand
if the parts were no longer available, or you at least sold
older copies of your software.

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

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If you're having trouble getting software for 3K devices, let me know.

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The issue is not the software, it's the testing.  With thousands of
device/package/speed
grade combinations, plus the platforms and OSs, plus all the EDA
interfaces we support,
there are millions of  possibilities that need to be tested.  Since the
Spartan software was
high quality, and we didn't want to destabalize it with enhancements
needed for newer
architectures, we decided to freeze the Spartan software.  This allows
us to focus our
testing efforts where they are needed most.

Spartan software is available for free at:
http://www.xilinx.com/ise_classics/index.html

By the way, I don't expect us to be dropping any more architectures from
our FPGA
tools.

Steve

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Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
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I am a bit surprised that with software this complex that there was no
way to de-couple the various parts.  I am sure Xilinx does a lot of
testing on their software, but I am always amazed when I find a bug
that is known about and it takes them several major releases to fix
it.  My favorite was VHP__0854  The expression can not be converted to
type std_logic_vector. That bug was there forever and finally fixed in
4.x.

We currently hold 7 Xilinx licenses that cost us about $10K a year to
maintain. With Xilinx claiming to be best in class I expect more.

I find it interesting when I had called the Xilinx hotline that they
said there was no way to get the older software.  It's not an issue
for us as we maintain them.  For others this may be a problem.

The bigger problem is that we have some parts that we use that
requires us to keep an old Window 95 PC setup just to support the old
software.  Plus, we don't get to leverage the newer interfaces as they
are developed.  Instead we are forced to remember how to use the old
tools.  This costs us time and money.

Thanks for picking up Synplicity.  We use their full tools.  Fast,
don't drop support, and best of all, their tools work.

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
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Thanks, I appreciate the lack of HTML in the news group.

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At least for XC4000E, EX, XL, XLA, and Spartan, the SW is
available as Xilinx "Classic" software (free, but need normal
xilinx user id/password).

    http://www.xilinx.com/webpack/classics/spartan_4k/index.htm


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As for maintaining multiple versions of the software
on the same computer, I have found that VMWARE (www.vmware.com)
is a very good solution. I basically set up a virtual computer
for each version of the software, and each is kept separate
and there are no conflicts. Costs a few GBytes of disk, which
these days is only a few $.



Philip Freidin



Philip Freidin
Fliptronics

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
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Good advice, but it addresses they symptom, not the root problem.  I
don't want to have to work around what Xilinx is doing.  I want them
to do a better job for us.

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
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I feel for you, and every other company who is now in this trap thank
to Xilinx.  I think with Xilinx dropping Spartan, you really have to
wonder what their long term plans are.  Will we have one "stable"
version of software for each series?  Each version with it's own
interface, bugs and PC requirements?  Is this really what we expect
from a company who claims to be the best?

I had called Xilinx marketing to ask some of these questions, and like
the person I spoke to on the Hotline, they just don't have a clue what
the long term plans are.  Who is driving the ship?

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
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It is real simple.  The FPGA marketplace is mainly between two players.
So a maker can focus on a few aspects of the product to compete well in
the marketplace.  I don't expect that long term support in the tools is
a major issue with the majority of users at selection time and even if
it is, who else can you choose?  Is one really that much better than the
other?  My experience with the A vendor had one very bad example of tool
support for an older product.  It was still in the tool, but they
wouldn't consider a bug fix even when there was no viable work around.
I don't mean to keep harping on this problem, but it was very signficant
to us and I now realize that there were a lot of ramifications other
than just the technical issue.  


--

Rick "rickman" Collins

snipped-for-privacy@XYarius.com
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Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
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 Can we get a quick summary of what's removed, and what
legacy versions of SW are needed to support which family ?

 Peter A mentioned SpartanXL as being still active,
(and lowest power?) but not supported in the latest SW ?

 I also noted in another thread that Altera ADDED support for
an older 10Kxx family to Quartus 3.0.

 -jg

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

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The current software (version 5.1i, 5.2i, 6.1i) supports Virtex,
Virtex-E, Virtex-II, Virtex-II Pro, Spartan II, Spartan IIE, and Spartan-3.
ISE Classics (version 4.2i) supports XC4000E, XC4000L, XC4000EX,
XC4000XL, XC4000XLA, Spartan, and SpartanXL.

Contact the hotline if you need software for:
3.1i supporting XC3000A, XC3000L and XC5200.
XACT 6 supporting XC2000, XC3000, and XC4000, XC4000A and XC5200.

Steve


Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

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This sounds like I better terminate my Xilinx software subscription, and
use the free versions instead.

I recently changed my PC to a new one, and tried to install the licensed
version of ISE 4.2, because I need Spartan and Spartan XL.  It was a
pain to make it work again because one design uses FPGA express, and it
always complained about the license being invalid.

The only solution was, as a Xilinx FAE told me, to use use tool to
change the volume serial number of my hard disk to the one that the old
PC had. Fortunately I didn' have to reregister Windows XP again.

Thomas

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
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Which tool did you find that would let you change the disk serial
number?  

--

Rick "rickman" Collins

snipped-for-privacy@XYarius.com
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Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

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http://www.sysinternals.com/ntw2k/source/misc.shtml#VolumeId

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

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You complaint is with Synopsys not Xilinx, the Xilinx tools don't have any
hardware enforced licensing.

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
[snip]
:I'm driving the ship and like I said, we have no plans to drop any other
:architectures from our
:software.  All the FPGAs we have in the software now are derivatives of
:the Virtex arcitecture
:so keeping them in the release is not difficult.

My apologies if I've missed something: I join this thread late.
But now I'm worried: I was about to start a new design using Spartan:
exactly what has been dropped? (It wasn't evident from the Xilinx
website).


Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
Here are some tutorial notes, to calm the waves:

The physical life-length of typical FPGAs is >>10 years continuously at
the max allowed stress. In practical terms this means they work and are
reliable for  50 years or even longer, effectively forever. "Old FPGAs
never die, they just get obsolete".

The commercial availability of popular parts is well beyond 10 years
after introduction. Unpopular sleepers may be discontinued earlier. Any
responsible manufacturer gives you 1 to 2 years of warning and "last
buy" opportunities, and sometimes transfers the die inventory to an
"afterlife" supplier.

Software support in the most current releases can be a problem, and has
been discussed here. For Xilinx, the architectural commonality of all
Virtex and Sparten-II ( and later) devices makes it easier to maintain
support for all these families. Old software is available for free, but
may require an old computer OS.

Design-in life is much shorter, since newer devices make the older
devices appear slow and expensive. "One year in the life of an FPGA
equals 15 years of human life" means that a device introduced 2 years
ago is in its prime, a device introduced 4 years ago is now a senior
citizen, fully capable but not to be raced against the newer parts.
(There are special cases: Spartan-XL, with its roots in XC4000,  is
today the last really low idle-power FPGA family, and is 5-V tolerant
and -compatible.)

Freshly announced parts are exciting, but the user must ascertain their
availability. The manufacturer should not be criticized for  releasing
product details ahead of availability. That gives the user a chance to
plan and evaluate.

And finally, we all know and understand that the frentic pace of FPGA
innovation is at odds with the long design cycle time of miltary and
aerospace projects.

Just some common thoughts...

Peter Alfke
==========================

Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

:> Old software is available for free, but may require an old computer
:> OS.

: What about releasing the source of unsupported tools into the public
: domain, or as Free Software?  Unmaintained binary only software is not
: a big help, but old source code that one can maintain oneself is a
: winner.

: You might also learn a thing or two about the 'Free Software / Open
: Source community' that way and how it might help you make Xilinx more
: popular.

To cite the Bible:

"Eher geht ein Kamel durch's Nadeloehr, als dass ..."

Probably the software is hopelessly interweaved with externelly licensed
software and other parts that are still considered crucial.  I doubt that
there is a big difference between an FPGA suite and Netscape. And look what
effort it took to get from Netscape to Mozilla. The audience for a FPGA
suite is oders of magnitude smaller.

Anyways, such a move would be great...

Bye

B.t.w.: For mantaining legacy version of windows software, the windows
emulator wine (www.winehq.com) might be an option for the
not-so-faint-hearted.

--
Uwe Bonnes                 snipped-for-privacy@elektron.ikp.physik.tu-darmstadt.de

Institut fuer Kernphysik  Schlossgartenstrasse 9  64289 Darmstadt
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

:> Old software is available for free, but may require an old computer
:> OS.

: What about releasing the source of unsupported tools into the public
: domain, or as Free Software?  Unmaintained binary only software is not
: a big help, but old source code that one can maintain oneself is a
: winner.

: You might also learn a thing or two about the 'Free Software / Open
: Source community' that way and how it might help you make Xilinx more
: popular.

To cite the Bible:

"Eher geht ein Kamel durch's Nadeloehr, als dass ..."

Probably the software is hopelessly interweaved with externally licensed
software and other parts that are still considered crucial.  I doubt that
there is a big difference between an FPGA suite and Netscape. And look what
effort it took to get from Netscape to Mozilla. The audience for a FPGA
suite is orders of magnitude smaller.

Anyways, such a move would be great...

Bye

B.t.w.: For maintaining legacy version of windows software, the windows
emulator wine (www.winehq.com) might be an option for the
not-so-faint-hearted.

--
Uwe Bonnes                 snipped-for-privacy@elektron.ikp.physik.tu-darmstadt.de

Institut fuer Kernphysik  Schlossgartenstrasse 9  64289 Darmstadt
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts
Too many German quotes.
Uwe's was
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a
rich man
to enter into the kingdom of God"
New Testament, St. Matthew 19:24

Maybe you remember from Sunday School...
Peter A
======================
Uwe Bonnes wrote:
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Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts

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Uwe is right about this. I can say from personal experience that Wine will
run all of the versions of the Xilinx tools going back to the 3.x
releases. Chances are that it will handle earlier releases also, it can
probably even support the XACT tools which ran on Windows 3.1 as I
remember. You could also use Win4Lin which runs any Win9x on top of Linux.
Version 2.x was contemporary with Win95 so you certainly could use
Win95/98 on Win4Lin to run them.


Re: Xilinx ISE drops support for more parts


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In extremely long product life markets you have to warehouse everything.
Any board that is old enough to have a 3000 on it is full of components
that haven't been manufactured for years. Chances are you have parts that
were made by companies that aren't even in business anymore. The only way
that you can continue to make those boards is to have stockpiles of parts.
If you are stockpiling parts then you can stockpile software and a couple
of old computers to run it on. Keeping and a couple of old Sparc 1s or 386
PCs in the corner is far cheaper then stockpiling components.

One more thing, you said the reason for continuing to build outdated
systems is the cost of qualifying a new design. Well the same goes for
tools, you don't want to have to qualify a new tool set on the old parts
just so you can do a bug fix. You know that the old tools worked, you
don't know what bugs would pop up in the new tools if you tried to use
them for a really outdated part.

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