Annapolis Micro Systems was incorporated in 1982 as a services based company with two employees, including founder Jane (Jenny) Donaldson. The first contract Annapolis won was with Comsat corporation in Bethesda, Maryland. Success with this contract soon led to more contracts and a growing workforce to support the company’s expansion.
Jenny brought her husband Bob on board as chief architect and Annapolis caught the attention of an IBM fellow, Evon Greanias, through Jenny’s persistence, and not taking “No” for an answer. Annapolis began a long and rewarding relationship with IBM, developing and implementing new product ideas such as touch screen technologies, and Video on Demand systems. Working with IBM had a lasting influence on Annapolis, on how to be a business and how to produce a product. IBM helped Annapolis become a company that understands how vital it is to develop and maintain a win-win relationship with our customers.
First Xilinx FPGAs
Developing and prototyping products for other companies enabled Annapolis to gain expertise in printed circuit board design, software design, processor architectures, FPGA processing, and surface mount manufacturing. Annapolis used the first Xilinx FPGAs when they were available and took advantage of their processing capabilities.
In 1994, Annapolis licensed the FPGA based Splash II technology from the government, and performed a broad market survey to determine what features and aspects of FPGA based processing customers needed. As a result, Annapolis produced the first COTS reconfigurable product, Wildfire™, based on Xilinx’s XC3000 series FPGA. In producing Wildfire, Annapolis was able to leverage all aspects of its product development and business expertise.
Becoming a Product Company
Annapolis next made the transformation from a services based company, to a product company. Wildfire was followed by generations of FPGA based products including Wildchild™, and then the more recent WILDSTAR™ 4, 5, and 6 architectures. These products traversed the offerings of Xilinx FPGA technology from XC4000 series, to Virtex 4, 5, and 6, and spanned multiple form factors including VME, cardbus, XMC, PCIe, and OpenVPX.
Developing Application Tools
In 2000, with the help of Annapolis’ expert Application Team, Annapolis product developers created the GUI-based graphical tool named CoreFire, to simplify the time consuming development of FPGA designs. CoreFire design technology is unique to the industry, and includes a vast library of tested building blocks. CoreFire changed the paradigm of FPGA design, using a graphical interface and data flow concept for application development. Productivity increased, application costs decreased, and time to market improved.
First Altera FPGAs
In 2011, Annapolis introduced the line of Altera products based on the Stratix V FPGA family, adding to its market leading Xilinx FPGA based product set. Along with the Stratix V introduction, Annapolis released the CoreFire Next™ FPGA programming tool, with support for Stratix V, Virtex 7, and newer FPGA technologies. CoreFire Next continues Annapolis’ legacy of expedient GUI-based FPGA design, offering many tool improvements and taking advantage of recent and future FPGA architectures.
Through the development and experience of more than 20 years of FPGA based product generations, Annapolis designs and methodology have evolved in many ways and include hardware and software co-design from the lowest levels of product development. Annapolis hardware is tightly coupled with VHDL and CoreFire Next based design methodologies, offering customers elegant and intuitive application design approaches. The results are fully integrated products allowing customers to streamline their development and reduce their time to market.
Today, Annapolis employs over 80 people and has products used throughout the United States and the world. Annapolis continues to design and manufacture its products and recently upgraded its Surface Mount manufacturing facility with state of the art equipment. In addition to FPGA board level products and software, Annapolis now offers system solutions, including the WILD40/100 EcoSystem™ for 3U and 6U, as well as the WILD40 PCI Express EcoSystem. The Annapolis EcoSystems include all the components customers need to solve their complex application needs, including real time storage, switched and mesh backplanes, and host data transfer and control.
Annapolis is committed to bringing the latest high performance FPGA and processing technology to the market as it becomes available, as well as making the technology easy to use. Annapolis continues to be committed to its customers and maintains a win-win approach to supporting customers.