The Source Code for the Vector-Add Kernel - 2023.2 English

Vitis Tutorials: Getting Started

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2023.2 English

In this tutorial, the hardware accelerator (also referred to as kernel) is modeled in C++. The Vitis flow also supports kernels coded in Verilog or VHDL. An example using a Verilog RTL version of the vector-add kernel can be found here.

Using C++, the description of the hardware accelerator fits in less than 20 lines of code and can be easily and efficiently implemented in FPGA using the Vitis compiler.

extern "C" {
  void vadd(
    const unsigned int *in1, // Read-Only Vector 1
    const unsigned int *in2, // Read-Only Vector 2
    unsigned int *out,       // Output Result
    int size                 // Size in integer

#pragma HLS INTERFACE m_axi port=in1 bundle=aximm1
#pragma HLS INTERFACE m_axi port=in2 bundle=aximm2
#pragma HLS INTERFACE m_axi port=out bundle=aximm1

    for(int i = 0; i < size; ++i)
      out[i] = in1[i] + in2[i];

This simple example highlights two important aspects of C++ kernels:

  1. Vitis requires C++ kernels to be declared as extern ā€œCā€ to avoid name mangling issues

  2. The results of the Vitis compilation process are controlled by the usage of pragmas in the source code.

Other than this, the functionality of the vector-add kernel is very easily recognizable. The vadd function reads in two inputs vectors (in1 and in2) and adds them into the out vector using a simple for loop. The size parameter indicates the number of elements in the input and output vector.

The pragmas are used to map function parameters to distinct kernel ports. By mapping the two inputs parameters to different input ports, the kernel will be able to read both inputs in parallel. As a general rule, and without going into further details in this introductory tutorial, it is important to think about interface requirements of hardware accelerators and they will have a determining impact on maximum achievable performance.

The Vitis online documentation provides comprehensive information on C/C++ Kernels as well as a complete HLS Pragmas reference guide.