Good grief – it's like the floor doors have been opened. Last year the folks at Achronix announced that their Speedster 22i HD and HP product families were to be the first FPGAs to be built on Intel's 22nm process technology (Click Here). And earlier this year they announced that they were actually shipping the little rascals (Click Here).
Next we heard that Tabula's ABAX2 3PLDs are setting 100G industry benchmarks and that these little scamps are also implemented at 22nm using Intel's advanced 22nm Tri-Gate process; also that everything on the chip – including the programmable fabric – can run at up to 2GHz (Click Here).
Even more intriguing was the news that the guys and gals at Altera that their future high-performance FPGAs are going to use Intel’s 14nm tri-gate technology (Click Here). (As I commented at that time: "I think this is the first time an FPGA company has announced a 'next-next-generation' technology before their 'next-generation' technology has hit the streets. We truly do live in exciting times!")
Well, I just heard that the folks at Microsemi (who absorbed FPGA company Actel) are leveraging Intel's onshore foundry technology for the development of their advanced high-performance digital integrated circuits (ICs) and system-on-chip (SoC) solutions – specifically that they too will be using Intel’s 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate transistor technology.
Consistent with Microsemi’s strategy, this agreement signed in January 2013 will leverage the company’s comprehensive technology portfolio into higher-performance, higher-dollar value opportunities. Intel’s Tri-Gate transistors provide an unprecedented combination of performance and power efficiency, enabling Microsemi to develop digital ICs – including their SmartFusion2 SoC FPGAs – for high-performance computing, network acceleration and signal processing applications. Microsemi is currently engaged with customers and has started designs utilizing Intel’s 22nm process node with product delivery anticipated to begin in late 2014 to early 2015.
“The high-value applications we address require semiconductor solutions with unique performance and complex functional attributes,” said Paul Pickle, executive vice president of Microsemi’s Integrated Circuits group. “Using Intel’s innovative process technology and silicon-proven IP will enable us to expand our opportunity in the markets we serve with higher-performance, lower-power digital ICs for the communications and defense markets.”
“Intel is pleased to manufacture Microsemi’s digital IC solutions utilizing Intel’s leading 22nm process technology and IP solutions,” said Sunit Rikhi, vice president, Technology and Manufacturing Group, Intel.
About Intel’s 3-D Tri-Gate Transistors
Intel’s 3-D Tri-Gate transistors are a reinvention of the transistor. The traditional "flat" two-dimensional planar gate is replaced with an incredibly thin three-dimensional silicon fin that rises up vertically from the silicon substrate. Control of current is accomplished by implementing a gate on each of the three sides of the fin—two on each side and one across the top—rather than just one on top, as is the case with the 2-D planar transistor. The additional control enables as much transistor current flowing as possible when the transistor is in the “on” state (for performance), due to the lower parasitics of the tri-gate structure and as close to zero as possible when it is in the “off” state (to minimize power). This enables the transistor to switch very quickly between the two states (again, for performance). To put the speed into perspective, a 22nm transistor can switch off and on well over a billion times in one second.
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