Xilinx unveils Vitis software for AI designers

Vitis is a new software platform for Xilinx boards that can help AI designers compile AI models on a Xilinx device quickly. (Xilinx)

Xilinx on Tuesday announced Vitis, a free software platform for Xilinx boards that is designed to assist AI designers with developer tools that help them skip the need for hardware expertise or the need to buy new silicon.

CEO Victor Peng announced Vitis at the company’s annual developer forum in San Jose. It took five years and and the work of 800 software engineers to make. 

The company will still support its Vivado Design Suite for those who want to program using hardware code, but Vitis is designed to help hardware developers by packaging hardware modules as “software-callable functions.”

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Programmers and engineers from all disciplines will be able to “co-develop and optimize both their hardware and software using the tools and frameworks they already know and understand,” Peng said in a statement. “This means they can adapt their hardware architecture to their application without the need for new silicon.”

Vitus can be plugged into open-source standard development systems and build environments and comes with a group of standard libraries. The base layer of Vitis is the Vitis target platform, made up of a board and preprogrammed I/O. A second layer, called the Vitis core development kit, uses the Xilinx runtime library to manage data movement between different domains such as the AI Engine and an upcoming feature called Versal ACAP.

A third layer has more than 400 applications contained in eight Vitis libraries. A fourth layer is called Vitis AI, which integrates a domain specific architecture to configure Xilinx hardware for its use in frameworks like TensorFlow and Caffe. With Vitis AI, developers can compile trained AI models running on a Xilinx device in about one minute, the company claimed. Soon Xilinx will release Vitis Video for video encoding.

The Vitis platform is free for Xilinx boards and will be available next month. The company announced an online sign up to be kept informed.

Xilinx also posted a blog that describes some of its first day at the developer forum, attended by 1,300 people. Other speakers at the event included a Samsung representative who described using the Xilinx UltraScale+ platform for 5G Massive MIMO and millimeter wave deployments.

RELATED: Xilinx to ship gigantic programmable chip with 9M logic cells

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