Xilinx recently introduced two new FPGA chip families, Spartan-6 and Virtex-6 that offer increased capacity and lower power consumption relative to their predecessors. For the first time, the new Spartan and Virtex families use the same underlying architecture to enable easier migration. There are, however, differences in fabrication process and features. Spartan-6 chips will be fabbed in a 45 nm process, while Virtex-6 chips will be fabbed in 40 nm. Spartan-6 chips incorporate DDR3 integrated memory controllers and support for 3.3-volt I/O; Virtex-6 chips include specialized FIFO logic, tri-mode EMAC, and System Monitor. (The System Monitor is a debug and thermal management tool that was introduced in Virtex-5.)
According to Xilinx, initial Spartan-6 chips are sampling now, with other chips in both families expected in the third quarter of this year. Specific chip pricing has not yet been disclosed, but Xilinx says it will be in the range of $2-$35 for Spartan-6 and $57-$2100 for Virtex-6. This pricing is for large quantities in the second half of 2011, which is when the chips are expected to go into volume production.
According to Xilinx, users can expect, on average, a 50% power reduction with Virtex-6 and 60% with Spartan-6 compared to previous-generation parts. Part of the power reduction with Virtex-6 will come from its support for voltage scaling options; Spartan-6 does not support voltage scaling.
Xilinx plans to use the new Spartan-6 and Virtex-6 family members as the basis for both domain-specific development kits (for domains such as DSP and embedded processing, for example) and market-specific platforms. The market-specific platforms will include chips, reference designs, and IP cores (i.e., implementations of key application-specific processing tasks, like video codecs) for markets such as automotive, consumer, video, and communications. By offering more than just chips and basic design tools, Xilinx hopes to enable faster and easier application development for its customers.
To read BDTI's complete article on this topic, please visit InsideDSP.com.