LONDON Startup company Achronix Semiconductor LLC said Tuesday (Sept. 20) it had produced a prototype of a line of field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that can operate at clock frequencies in excess of 650-MHz and at lower power than state-of-the-art FPGA products from other programmable logic vendors.
Achronix (Ithaca, NY) did not give power consumption or architecture details of the FPGA prototype or any forthcoming products and no indication of the level of circuit complexity it plans to support.
The FPGA architecture from Achronix is believed to apply asynchronous techniques to the FPGA core with synchronous inputs and outputs for convenient interfacing to other components, in a commercially available CMOS manufacturing process technology.
The company’s founder and chief technology officer, Rajit Manohar, has been researching asynchronous circuits for several years at Cornell University, where he worked as a tenured Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Achronix announced in July 2005 that it had licensed four patents from the Cornell Center for Technology, Enterprise and Commercialization, although the details of the patents licensed were not disclosed.
“At Achronix, we have already demonstrated a 650-plus megahertz FPGA and we will shatter the 1-GHz barrier by Q2 2006,” Manohar in a statement. “This is a critical first step in the development of our Achronix-Ultra line, and we accomplished all this using an older 180-nm fabrication process. At 90-nm, we should at least double our performance,” Manohar added in another statement.
“Our products will shift the delicate market balance between FPGAs and Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) a $7 billion global market annually. By offering performance of well over 1-GHz by mid-2006, we will open up a previously inaccessible market for FPGAs, and dominate that market,” said John Lofton Holt, chairman and chief executive officer of Achronix, in the same statement.
The Ultra line of FPGAs is expected to demonstrate the highest performance ever offered by a CMOS FPGA at clock frequencies in the 700-MHz to 1.2-GHz range based on a synchronous interface, an asynchronous core and a set of software tools to convert synchronous design flows to asynchronous logic, the company said.
Achronix is also planning an Xtreme FPGA product line that can operate at gigahertz clock frequencies in environments with high-levels of radiation and temperatures of up to 130C.
Although the company describes itself at its website as a manufacturer, the use of the term “commercially available CMOS” indicates that Achronix is a fabless chip company making use of foundry services. The company has not said where it has made its prototype circuit or where it intends to make production volumes of FPGAs.