New version of Kactus2 IP-XACT tool has been released

Kactus2 is a graphical open source IP-XACT toolset to design embedded products, especially FPGA-based MP-SoCs. It provides easier IP reuse and HW/SW co-design. The tool is available for Windows and Linux under GPL2 license at The biggest improvements in the v2.5 are the proper handling of vendor extensions and the possibility to add notes. A complete list is provided in the release notes.

Vendor extensions store such company-specific design information (such as interface parameters and supported chip families) that is not in the IP-XACT XML standard. Some tools simply discard all extensions. Kactus2 can now retain all design information to allow moving data between tools, as required by the standard. Currently we are investigating a good user interface for editing these extensions, which is tricky since their format is completely vendor-specific, as the name implies.

Designer’s note is a new feature that behaves similarly to comments inside code. They are very useful for capturing specialized, unstructured information that is needed upon reusing or modifying the design or component. Despite its handiness, such capability is missing from many graphical design tools. User can add them to component instances as well as connections, as shown in the figure below.

Graphical design view can include designer's notes, just like comments inside code.

Graphical design view can include designer’s notes, just like comments inside code.

Stay tuned for more information. For example, you’ll find the Kactus2 roadmap at

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