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Handel-C: image and graphics processing on field programmable gate arrays

Handel-C is a computer aided software engineering (CASE) tool. It puts the power of the field programmable gate array (FPGA) into the hands of the software designer. Three application notes have been produced that describe results already delivered in the project. A software engineer, without the use of any hardware description language tools, built the applications. The first note describes an FPGA graphics generator. When a design engineer plans the design of a graphics system, they usually envisage a system that includes: microprocessor and memory, graphics processor, video memory, video controller including digital to analogue conversion (DAC), software program in the microprocessor to control the system. This application shows how the complete system can be implemented on a single FPGA using the Handel-C language. The second note describes a large application, which is the design and implementation of a real-time image warping demonstration. That uses Handel-C to target the Pamette board from Digital Equipment Corporation. A spatial mesh describes a source-to-destination mapping and a real-time video stream is passed through this mapping and displayed on a screen. The implementation allows the mesh to be manipulated interactively using mouse dragging operations. The third note outlines a real-time graphics rendering and display system for three-dimensional scenes. The demonstration application illustrates how an FPGA deployed in conjunction with a digital signal processing (DSP) can be used to accelerate the application compared with the application running just on the DSP.

Handel-C is based on the C language and its additional features are mainly to support parallelism, communication, sharing, arbitrary width variables and timing. The handling of parallel processes and communication channels between them is based on the CSP model of parallel programming. Sharing of hardware is clearly necessary to reduce the size of implementations and Handel-C has some simple but effective ways of achieving this.


Roger GOOK
Tel.: +44-118-9771682
Fax: +44-118-9771682
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