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Canonical teams with Xilinx to accelerate the development of adaptive SoCs


on 14 December 2021

This article is more than 2 years old.

Strategic collaboration designed to offer enterprises a seamless path from their evaluation kits development to production for IoT devices across multiple Xilinx device families

December 14, 2021: Canonical and Xilinx Inc. announced today the publication of Ubuntu images optimised for Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ evaluation boards and the production-ready Kria System-on-Modules (SOM). The companies are collaborating to bring enterprise-grade Linux to the world of adaptive SoCs to accelerate the development of new software-defined devices across all IoT verticals. The goal is to ensure a smooth experience from prototyping on evaluation and starter kits to production-grade SOMs, reducing development costs and time.

The past decade saw huge growth in the demand for fully configurable adaptive computing devices, integrating the traditional hardware programmability and flexibility of an FPGA with the software programmability of embedded processors. Xilinx addresses this market need with the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC family of products widely adopted across various industry verticals, including the industrial, vision, and healthcare markets. Now, Xilinx and Canonical are working together to enable Ubuntu on select Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC-based platforms to bring the reliable and proven Ubuntu OS experience. 

Software-defined devices

Vision-guided robotics, machine learning-based artificial intelligence, 5G, and the edge bring rapidly evolving algorithms that benefit from Xilinx devices’ flexibility. The reconfigurability of adaptive SoCs is a game-changer for creating software-defined devices. Abstracting firmware and software modularity to unify all the pieces in a single catalogue of applications is one of the key results of the Xilinx and Canonical collaboration. The IoT App Store can update applications, operating systems, and firmware bitstream by leveraging the bullet-proof and mission-critical OTA update mechanism. This allows enterprises to manage the entire lifecycle of the devices in the field with the long-term support commitment for up to 10 years from Canonical.

“Xilinx has been on a journey to simplify embedded design while empowering developers with the capability of adaptive computing,” said Chetan Khona, Senior Director for Industrial, Vision, Healthcare and Sciences at Xilinx.  “Developers that are familiar with C++, Python, ROS 2, or their preferred machine-learning framework on Ubuntu should be able to access Xilinx benefits without traditional FPGA development easily, and this is what Canonical and Xilinx are accelerating together.  

Faster, simpler, and cost-effective development

Developing new embedded systems is costly in time, money, and resources. One of the most time-consuming and blocking tasks after the hardware design has finished is the enablement of the operating system. Therefore choosing the right reference platform with an enabled operating system is key. Having Ubuntu validated on multiple Xilinx platforms lowers the cost for end-customers to validate and support a trustworthy and reliable embedded operating system on their custom Xilinx boards. 

“The Xilinx-Canonical relationship ensures that software patches that enable the latest features on Xilinx SoCs are now available with a standard Ubuntu image. Whether you are prototyping a new solution or are ready to deploy across your Xilinx estate in the field, the Xilinx-optimised Ubuntu images simplify operations by letting you focus on your core applications,” observed Aniket Ponkshe, Director, Silicon Alliances at Canonical.

With a stable combination of hardware and operating system, significant custom work in the application space may be involved to develop a working solution. The snap store provides access to over 10,000 ready-to-use applications provided by a robust third-party ecosystem. 

“In addition to the reduction in OPEX, we see major industrial houses slashing their time-to-market by multiple quarters as a result of moving their entire device estate to Ubuntu from their fragile self-baked embedded Linux,” added Aniket Ponkshe.

Security built-in from evaluation to production

The fast-paced IoT and edge market requires developers to development focus on building applications, targeting valuable development resources on the business case. A pre-tested, proven and reliable operating system is thus essential to accelerate the time-to-market on their chosen hardware platform. Security and stability, however, are not just needed at product launch but throughout the product lifecycle, for this reason, Canonical integrates and regularly tests the latest Xilinx patches in the different Ubuntu variants, such as Ubuntu Desktop or the containerised Ubuntu Core. 

Getting started

You can install Ubuntu on Xilinx using the Ubuntu Desktop images optimised for the Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC-based evaluation boards and Kria production SOMs. Regular testing and updates are performed to get the latest software features.

About Canonical  

Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu, the leading OS for container, cloud, and hyperscale computing. Most public cloud workloads use Ubuntu, as do most new smart gateways, switches, self-driving cars, and advanced robots. Canonical provides enterprise support and services for commercial users of Ubuntu. Established in 2004, Canonical is a privately held company.

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