Xilinx, Inc. is the world's largest developer and manufacturer of programmable logic ICs, so-called field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The company was founded by Ross Freeman ( FPGA inventor ), Bernie Vonderschmitt ( fabless pioneer ) and Jim Barnett founded in 1984 and located in the Silicon Valley. To date, the headquarters of the company in San Jose, California, European headquarters are located in Dublin and the Asian in Singapore. Xilinx does not have a semiconductor manufacturing, but is a fabless IC manufacturer.
Xilinx manufactures FPGA and CPLD devices that are used in numerous applications in the telecommunications, automotive, consumer, defense and other areas. In the main, three device families are made: simple logic ( CoolRunner ), low -cost ( Spartan ), and high- end applications ( Virtex ), together with their required building blocks such as PROMs.
The Virtex family is of particular interest to system-on- a-chip developers because some blocks of this family contain full PowerPC cores as a discrete hardware blocks directly in the FPGA chip. This can run on these chips specific programs or entire operating systems such as μCLinux or RTOS, while the logic gates in the chip can be fully utilized for enhancements to the functionality. It can be implemented, for example, peripheral components or co-processors. But SoC systems can be realized by means of soft cores such as the Xilinx 's MicroBlaze or other synthesizable processor cores in Xilinx FPGAs without PowerPC core. The FPGA series Virtex- II Pro, Virtex -4, Virtex -5, Virtex -6 contain up to two embedded IBM PowerPC cores of the series 405 or 440 of the current FPGAs Zynq -7000 family included for SoC Applications instead, a multi-core processor with ARM architecture (ARM Cortex- A9 MPCore ).
With the Virtex2 family Xilinx was the beginning of 2006 the first manufacturer whose FPGAs are partially reconfigurable. That is, portions of the chip can be reconfigured at run time and thus the functions to be replaced.
Other major FPGA vendors are Altera, Lattice Semiconductor Corporation, Actel, QuickLogic and Atmel.