LONDON Startup Achronix Semiconductor Corp. said that initial testing on first silicon of a 90-nm prototype FPGA has achieved performance equivalent to 1.93 GHz at 1.2 volts.
The Ithaca, N.Y.-based company added that it expects to take another year to complete the multimillion-gate FPGA and its design support, with a further improvement in performance, and to be able to release sample quantities of a commercial product in 2007.
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 originally proved out its ideas with a 650-MHz design implemented in 0.18-micron manufacturing technology, which it announced in September 2005. At the time, Achronix promised to bust the 1-GHz barrier in the second quarter of 2006.
Achronix said that the latest results make its “Ultra” FPGA the fastest CMOS FPGA ever demonstrated. The company also reported that the prototype device was tested over a wide temperature range–196 degrees C to 130 degrees Cand over 0.2-V to 3.9-V voltages and operated correctly under all of those conditions. The company said it would now focus on completing such chip features as high-speed interfaces, user-selectable speed and power parameters, as well as providing support for third-party FPGA synthesis tools.
The extreme temperature range to which the Ultra chip was subjected was a reflection that the operation of asynchronous logic varies with temperature and, therefore, requires strong characterization. But it also revealed aspirations Achronix has in the military and aerospace arenas.
“While these conditions may be extreme for commercial use, this is a good initial test of the commercial architecture that will be the basis of our military/aerospace ‘Xtreme’ product family,” said John Lofton Holt, chairman and CEO of Achronix, in a statement. “The Xtreme family is designed to withstand these types of conditions in the presence of high radiation.”
“We have already begun work on our 90-nm commercial product, and we expect an additional 20 percent speed increase over this prototype device while keeping our power requirements at a fraction of that required by other FPGAs,” said Clinton Kelly, vice president of advanced research at Achronix, in the same statement.
“The hard problems are now solved, and the performance of the hardware and software architecture is proven,” said Rajit Manohar, founder and chief technology officer at Achronix. Manohar researched asynchronous circuits for several years at Cornell University, where he worked as a tenured associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Achronix was included in the fourth iteration of the Silicon 60, EE Times’ list of emerging startups.