XDF 2019 is the place where Xilinx experts, partners and industry leaders gather to inspire new innovations. Starting with a keynote from Victor Peng, Xilinx’s CEO, XDF 2019 began with 1,300 customers, partners, developers and Xilinx employees. The event included a variety of new presentations through keynotes, more than 75 sessions on a variety of topics, a hands-on developer lab with over 40 hours, and a variety of use case exhibits from partners. A variety of stories from industrial key people can also help you discover new perspectives and insights.
At the XDF 2019, Xilinx unveiled Vitis, a unified software platform that offers a new design experience. The integrated software platform Vitis makes it easy for software engineers, AI scientists, and other developers in new fields to easily take advantage of hardware adaptability. In addition, keynotes and exhibitions introduced various innovations using Xilinx FPGAs and ACAPs in various areas such as 5G, cloud-to-edge data center areas, AI, and autonomous vehicles. There was also a place to share and discuss new information or implementation examples through various sessions.
|▲ Xilinx CEO Victor Peng|
|▲ The three areas are mentioned as markets for major growth engines.|
Victor Peng, CEO of Xilinx, stated that Xilinx technologies and products have been used as core competencies for a variety of innovative applications to dates and have been presented an implementation of adaptable, intelligent and connected future world with visions. And as Xilinx’s strategy, he pointed out three pillars: data center first, core market acceleration, and adaptive computing initiatives. These will be implemented as a combination of hardware, software developers, and platforms. At the same time, three current major growth engines were selected: data center, 5G, and automobiles.
In implementing 5G infrastructure, Xilinx's Ultrascale+ platform is effectively used to implement 5G infrastructure equipment, and Wonil Roh, Vice President of Samsung Electronics, introduced the implementation of 5G infrastructure equipment through cooperation with Xilinx at the keynote of XDF 2019. First, he claimed that 5G communication technology is spreading at the fastest speed so far. Korea and the United States are leading this, and Japan and India are preparing for full-scale 5G commercial services. And he explained, on the journey to 5G commercial services in the United States, Samsung Electronics is collaborating with major telecom operators in the supply of 5G equipment.
In Korea, Samsung Electronics is in a leading position in supplying equipment for 5G infrastructure, such as 5G RAN and core equipment, and supports the rapidly growing Korean 5G market. And one of the reasons for the successful evaluation in the market for the development and supply of high-performance 5G equipment is that it was able to quickly provide a solution that meets the needs of customers. In addition, he explained that Xilinx products’ features such as low power consumption and heat generation, larger memory and performance, and flexibility have enabled the development of equipment that can be easily installed with smaller size and higher energy efficiency. Wonil Roh also introduced that Samsung Electronics is already planning a product that uses Xilinx Versal ACAP.
|▲ Xilinx’s hardware platform is now reaching ACAP concept.|
|▲ ‘SageMaker Neo’ enables you to quickly migrate your optimized machine learning model from cloud to edge.|
It is introduced that Xilinx's hardware platforms range from FPGAs and SoCs, and now to the Adaptive Compute Acceleration Platform (ACAP) and the Alveo platform for data centers. In particular, 'Alveo', which is optimized for the implementation of adaptive accelerators in data centers, can be configured with HBM to provide a high performance environment for various applications in the data center. Xilinx also presented a 7nm Versal ACAP chip and development board. In addition, in the growth of the data center ecosystem, which is one of the major growth engines in the future, Xilinx highlighted that it has more than 5,800 companies, academia, 725 accelerator programs, 85 apps, etc. across Alveo's partner ecosystem and ISV ecosystem covering various areas.
In using FPGAs as "adaptive accelerators" in the data center, Amazon is offering its AWS offering a "FPGA as a service" model through the F1 service. The EC2 F1 service is now deployed and operating on a global basis and continues to expand. And here, Amazon announced that AWS is expanding its F1 service based on Virtex Ultrascale+ FPGAs to the Canada Region. Amazon stressed that developers using FPGAs can scale their apps through the cloud and rapidly deploy to larger regions.
Many customers around the world are using this F1 service to efficiently handle compute-intensive applications. AstraZeneca has effectively combined the EC2 F1, Batch and S3 services to efficiently build a genomic sequence data processing pipeline on AWS services. The pipeline's performance is enough to analyze more than 100,000 genomes in 100 hours, and there is still room for improvement. In the area of security, Trend Micro is also deploying high-performance network security virtual appliances on the FPGA instance and showing them on AWS Marketplace, adding performance, efficiency and operational simplicity.
What’s more, Amazon introduced ‘Sagemaker Neo’ service, which provides an environment for building and deploying machine learning models with optimized performance and efficiency. The service allows users to deploy the most optimized models in a variety of environments including edge environment and the environments utilizing Xilinx solutions. With this service, machine learning models built and run on Xilinx Alveo cards on-premises can be seamlessly migrated to the F1 in the cloud and to edge devices based on Xilinx technology.
|▲ As a future data center model, a ‘distributed adaptive computing environment’ was proposed.|
|▲ Microsoft also introduced Alveo-based FPGA accelerated VM service to Azure services.|
Xilinx introduced its FPGAs and ACAPs as "accelerators" in computing environments, enabling efficient performance of tens of times in video transformation, data analysis, and real-time machine learning inference. In addition, in the storage area, it is possible to greatly increase performance by using FPGAs as accelerators in compression, encryption, and deduplication, etc. in processing the rapidly growing data. And SmartNIC, which uses FPGAs together in the network, can greatly improve packet processing throughput and provide a more secure connection environment by improving encryption processing performance.
As a future data center model, “Distributed Adaptive Computing” was proposed, in which FPGAs and ACAPs were actively combined with the existing cloud resource pools. In this overall cloud environment expanding to hybrid and edge, processors, SmartNICs, storage with accelerators, and ACAP-based compute accelerators are all connected in the form of resource pools and optimized for workloads, allowing flexible configuration deployment as needed. In such an environment, proper resource allocation enables high performance, low latency, and optimized cost. At the same time, reconfigurable silicon devices such as FPGAs and ACAPs can respond to rapid innovation cycles while minimizing the introduction of new silicon.
Microsoft stated that Azure Cloud Service offers a variety of specialized service models, including high-performance VMs, accelerator-combined VMs, HPC services, and high-performance storage or large-memory VMs. Among these service models, the Azure NP VM service can utilize Alveo U250 FPGA accelerators, with 10-40 CPU cores, 168GB to 672GB of memory, and four Alveo U250 accelerators depending on the required performance level. This service will soon be available in the US East, West, Southeast Asia and Western Europe regions so that the software products currently available in the Alveo environment will be available in Azure as well.
|▲ Vitis unified software platform enables FPGAs to be handled on the basis of software technologies.|
|▲ Hitachi announced that it achieved results in just two months by using Vitis to implement the entire ADAS system.|
Xilinx has continued to evolve its capabilities in the software direction since the FPGA design tool Vivado. And Xilinx introduced its plan to clean up the complex environments that have been divided so far through the Vitis unified software platform, and to organize the development environment into two major axes, Vivado and Vitis. In addition, Xilinx stressed that in response to heterogeneous computing environments, edge-to-cloud environments, and the use of AI technology, the Vitis platform enables leveraging Xilinx’s hardware architecture capabilities without the need for expertise in hardware.
The Vitis unified software platform includes a rich set of optimized open source libraries and implementations of domain-specific architectures, providing an environment for optimized hardware from AI, video to big data analytics. Xilinx announced that it plans to offer the Vitis platform free of charge for the Xilinx board, based on an open source model, and emphasized that the journey to open source is now one of the key strategies for Xilinx. Furthermore, Xilinx is contributing to the OpenAMP project recently, and in the future, the TensorFlow and Kubernetes projects will also contribute to Xilinx technology.
In the automotive sector, it was introduced that Hitachi Automotive Systems supplies ADAS systems to a wide range of automotive manufacturers, and utilizes Xilinx’s FPGAs and SoCs to optimize the functionality and performance required for level 2 or higher ADAS systems. In implementing such a modern ADAS system, Hitachi introduced that it could create an end-to-end automotive design that includes a deep learning-based object recognition system in just two months by using Versal boards and Vitis platforms.
|▲ Vitis AI integrates a “domain specific architecture” to give AI scientists even greater capability.|
|▲ The use of FPGAs in the implementation of autonomous driving platforms enables them to meet a variety of demanding conditions.|
Incorporating a domain-specific architecture (DSA), Vitis AI allows you to optimize and program your Xilinx hardware using industry-leading frameworks such as TensorFlow, Caffe, and PyTorch. Vitis AI provides tools to optimize, compress, and compile trained AI models and run them on Xilinx devices in about one minute. Also, specialized APIs for building edge-to-cloud with best-in-class reasoning performance and efficiency are supported. Xilinx emphasized that this tool is a useful tool for startups that want to take advantage of AI by enabling optimized hardware use without expertise in hardware.
Pony.ai presented an example of using Xilinx FPGAs and Versal ACAP to implement the level 4 autonomous driving system, “PonyPilot”. The autonomous driving system needs to be able to continue driving even in a complicated traffic situation on a real road, and to judge data coming through various sensors, and to perform a near real-time judgment in a complicated situation. In particular, in meeting the difficult conditions of low latency and limited power consumption, the use of FPGAs has improved the latency by 12 times compared to the conventional system, and realized the system with about 30W of power consumption.