SAN FRANCISCO—Programmable logic maker Xilinx Inc. will offer three distinct
families of FPGAs at the 28-nm node, up from the two classes of devices offered
by the company at previous nodes, Xilinx announced Monday (June 21).
The move to three families—including the high-end Virtex family, the
mid-range Kintex family and the low-cost Artix family—is one of several changes
Xilinx revealed Monday about its next-generation devices, known as Xilinx 7
series FPGAs, which are scheduled to be available in the first quarter of 2011.
disclosed in February, the series 7 devices will also feature a scalable
architecture to enable customers to migrate 28-nm designs between the product
families much more easily than has previously been possible, Xilinx said. The
28-nm series 7 devices will also feature 50 percent power reduction compared to
the company's 40-nm devices and offer capacity of up to 2 million logic cells,
according to the company.
Patrick Dorsey, senior director of product management at Xilinx, said the
company chose to expand to three families of FPGAs at 28-nm after meeting with
more than 300 customers over the past two years. The customers told Xilinx they
wanted the flexibility to migrate designs between families easily, reduced power
consumption to enable higher performance and the ability to meet power budgets
and a mid-range class of device between Xilinx's traditional high-performance
and low-power offerings, Dorsey said.
According to Moshe Gavrielov, Xilinx president and CEO, the series 7 devices
will accelerate the trend of FPGAs displacing ASICs. By enabling customers to
use less power without compromising on higher capacity and increased
performance, the series 7 devices will address a market that is roughly twice
the size of that available to Xilinx's 40-nm Virtex-6 and 45-nm Spartan-6 parts,
Gavrielov, acknowledging that FPGA vendors have been claiming to take market
share from ASICs for years, said FPGAs are now poised to displace them for a
wide variety of applications. "We are not saying [ASICs] are dead, but they are
getting more niche, for more high-volume applications," he said. "FPGAs are
becoming more mainstream."
The 28-nm families also extend Xilinx's targeted
design platform strategy introduced with Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 parts, now
in volume productions, Xilinx said. The strategy combines FPGAs, Xilinx's ISE
design suite software tools and IP, development kits and targeted reference
designs to offer a validated set of components that encompasses about 80 percent
of a design for various target applications, allowing customers to focus their
resources to add differentiating features in the remaining 20 percent or so.
New applications that the series 7 families can address which were previously
the domain of ASSPs or ASICs include portable ultrasound equipment consuming
less than 2 watts and automobile infotainment systems driven by 12 volts, as
well as low-cost LTE baseband and femtocell base stations, Xilinx said.
Xilinx said it is able to minimize total power consumption for the series 7
devices by using a high-k metal gate high-performance/low power process
optimized for low static power consumption. Working with foundry partners Taiwan
Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Xilinx
helped define the new process to achieve FPGA performance requirements, while
lowering static power consumption by 50 percent compared to the alternative
28-nm high-performance process, Xilinx said. The company then applied
architectural enhancements to lower dynamic power consumption both for logic and
I/O, while also introducing intelligent clock-gating technology with the release
of ISE Design Suite 12, Xilinx said.