IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

Xilinx Opens Up

by Dan Mandell | 10/09/2019

Last week, Xilinx hosted its 2nd Xilinx Developer Forum (XDF) Silicon Valley event in San Jose and it featured some important news announcements, a wide variety of different breakout sessions and hands-on developer labs, and insightful presentations from industry veterans. The biggest news from the event was the launch of the Xilinx Vitis software platform, which looks to bring renewed vitality to software development. The company also doubled down on its open source activities (yes, Xilinx has been doing open source for years) and launched a new developer website ( with access to different project examples, tutorials, and documentation. XDF 2019 was chock full of interesting announcements that are responding to the dynamic needs of hardware and software developers tackling difficult challenges for AI, machine learning, IIoT, and edge computing.

Vitis was launched to help the industry contend with three critical industry trends impacting all industries: heterogeneous computing, cloud to edge unification, and AI proliferation. Heterogeneous computing has progressed beyond simply integrating different core types and accelerators to software-aware architectures for adaptive heterogeneous computing. Cloud/edge unification requires a unified development environment as workloads scale across devices leveraging OpenCV, Python, and Tensorflow. AI is rapidly growing within an expanding array of applications ranging 5G, autonomous driving, finance, genomics, and healthcare. Whereas Vivado was launched in 2012 for hardware developers (and will continue to be supported alongside Vitis), the new Vitis platform unifies application software development including elements for OS and firmware SDKs, embedded software, Faas/Alveo, and AI inference acceleration to enable the creation of both programmable and adaptable silicon solutions. The Xilinx Vitis unified software platform will be available in about a month and is completely free for Xilinx boards. Along with Vitis, Xilinx at the show launched the Vitis AI libraries and domain-specific development environment to enable data scientists and others to leverage Xilinx hardware without deep knowledge of FPGA design or programming.


Most people in the industry would not think of Xilinx immediately when discussing open source technology but the company has been a user since 2001 and contributor since 2007 for GCC, Xen Project, U-Boot, and others. Open source is now core to the Xilinx strategy with a focus on runtimes, libraries, and AI models to start. At launch, Xilinx is offering 8 optimized open source libraries containing 400+ functions for vision, databases, security, AI, and more.

XDF2019 highlighted a number of important trends impacting the gamut of developers and technology providers worldwide. Creating the Vitis unified software platform took five years and 1,000 man years to complete and enable the Xilinx hardware architecture to be tailored to software or algorithm code without hardware expertise. Reducing the technical burden of development organizations is critical in order for them to maximize the use of high-performance and heterogeneous computing devices. This year’s event was a massive step forward for the company and we look forward to following its open source journey moving forward.

View the 2019 IoT & Embedded Technology Research Outline to learn more.