FPGA programmability has traditionally been supplied at the board level
with a separate packaged device. Holt said attempts had been made to
include separate logic and FPGA die in one package but with less
success. Die-level integration is the next stage of that integration
evolution, Holt argued.
By way of an illustration of the
Achronix IP offering Holt flashed up three embedded FPGA (eFPGA) macros
with between 100,000 and 1 million effective gates and occupying between
2.1 and 19.2 square millimeters in Intel's 22-nm FinFET process.
However, Holt admitted that most of the customers Achronix is engaged with
today are looking for custom FPGA fabrics.
In his presentation
Holt said: "Depending on the performance and power requirements, the die
area for some of these fabric components can be reduced by up to 40
percent. We are also planning to support advanced TSMC processes in
Holt also admitted that while its IP business line will be
foundry agnostic, all its present IP licensees are targeting TSMC. He
added that Achronix could probably get customers to market faster with
an Intel-produced chip as the FPGA fabric is fully characterized. "Intel
foundry is not averse to this if the volumes are right," Holt said.
doubts about the approach remain. One is how to connect the FPGA
fabric into the on-chip bus to guarantee to provide suitable additional
resources for all the disruptions the design team might be trying to
Holt said Achronix now envisions three EDA
design flows in support of its FPGA technology. The first is the
standard flow that allows engineers to program Achronix FPGAs down to
the RTL level, which Achronix has offered since 2008. The second is an integrated
SoC/FPGA design flow to support the addition of FPGA fabric in SoCs and
allow the fabric to be programmed. The third EDA flow will extend that
FPGA fabric programmability to users to support functional
Achronix' current business plan of record is
to conduct an initial public offering in 2014. To achieve that, Holt
reckons the company will need $100 million of annual sales and 70-plus
percent gross margins. "I want to stay high margin, to get into
handsets," he said.