Intel FPGAs are unique semiconductor devices that we can program to perform specific functions. As a result, we can use them for a wide range of applications, from data center acceleration and deep learning to 5G wireless and smart infrastructure.
Intel FPGAs are manufactured on a leading-edge 14nm process node and offer a wide range of features, including:
- High performance: Up to 2.5x the performance of competitive devices
- Low power consumption: Operate at less than 1/10th the power of competitive devices
- High density: Fit more than 2x the logic gates into the same area as competitive devices
- Flexible: You can program them to perform a wide range of functions
If you’re considering buying an Intel FPGA, you’ll find several benefits and features that set this new chip apart from others. First, here’s a closer look at the Intel FPGA. After all, it’s an entirely new chip design. Intel also acquired the Altera Corporation in 2015.
What is FPGA in Intel?
If you’re not familiar with the term “FPGA,” you’re not alone. Intel’s FPGA is a chip that lets the designer customize the functionality of the core. Intel continues its chiplet strategy with its base 10nm FPGA. It is designed for future expansion using a chiplet ecosystem. The strategy offers material advantages in development cost, feature set, and time to market. However, you’ll have to wait for future technologies, such as HBM, 116G transceivers, and PCIe 5.0/CXL, before Intel can implement them.
The FPGA in Intel is great in implementing applications that demand high-speed data transmission. Intel’s M-Series FPGAs are good for high-speed memory workloads and support DDR4 and DDR5. In addition, they feature hardened memory NoCs to remove any memory bottlenecks across network, edge, and data center applications.
We often call FPGAs as ‘SoCs.’ They are a special form of processor that combines fixed-silicon logic with programmable logic. Hard processors are much more efficient than soft processors, and they can perform more complex functions than soft processors. Hard processors are often sold as variations of a particular SoC FPGA. They are generally more expensive than soft processors, and they have a fixed feature set. There are limited number of hard processors.
While Xilinx and Intel’s respective FPGA architectures differ, both companies have similar features and performance. For example, they use DSPs to increase their computing power, which can be rivaled by GPUs. However, an FPGA with the ACAP approach may be faster in some workloads than a GPU. However, both companies are working to make FPGAs as easy to use as possible.
What is the Purpose of FPGA?
An FPGA is a digital chip used for general-purpose computing. Its function is to perform tasks that are difficult to implement using a traditional CPU. You can do the design for an FPGA using a language known as the hardware description language, or HDL. This language describes the circuitry of an FPGA at a high level and is important in creating a configuration file for the chip. Its purpose is to allow designers to create complex digital circuits that do a range of tasks.
Unlike traditional CMOS chips, FPGAs use a single clock signal to control most of their circuitry. These chips have dedicated global and regional routing networks and delay-locked loop components that synthesize new clock frequencies while attenuating jitter. An FPGA can also use multiple clock signals for advanced circuit designs. These signals can be generated locally by an oscillator or recovered from a high-speed serial data stream.
A typical FPGA contains a set of memory and control registers. It can also store and process data. Intel, for example, has an FPGA with a memory interface that supports up to 57.8 Gbps. The Stratix 10 GX FPGA has PCIe Gen3 x16 and a 10/25/100G Ethernet MAC. These devices are useful in high-bandwidth performance applications.
Intel Edge-Centric FPGAs
If you are in the market for an FPGA chip, you may have noticed a new type of device in the market called Edge-Centric FPGAs. This type of chip combines a hardware processor and a software-defined peripheral. Intel Edge-Centric FPGAs are ideal for small form factor, low power applications. These chips provide the flexibility and longevity required for low-power applications with an instant-on capability and on-chip flash memory.
Previously, Intel insisted that its Xeon processor handle nearly every computing task without the help of an FPGA. However, Intel has taken a different approach and created a new platform that incorporates FPGAs with next-generation memory and custom chips. The result is a platform we call AgileX. As a result, edge-Centric FPGAs are capable of delivering high-performance compute to mobile devices.
For applications that require high-bandwidth performance, Intel offers an Edge-Centric FPGA called Cyclone 10 GX. The Cyclone 10 GX FPGA delivers up to 12.5 Gbps of transceivers. In addition, the Cyclone 10 GX FPGA comes with both a soft-core processor and a dual-core ARM A9 hard processor.
The new processors from Intel are targeting the next generation of servers and network equipment. Swan, former Intel’s CEO, had explained that the company is moving from being PC-centric to being data-centric. With the cloud data center becoming increasingly centralized, Intel is focusing on a data-centric product portfolio to combat Moore’s Law slowdown. This is a step in the right direction for Intel, which is trying to position itself as a leading chip provider for 5G networks.
Next-Generation Intel FPGA Video Test Chip
With its 224 Gbps-PAM4-LV transceiver test chip, Intel has taken a significant step forward in the FPGA industry. The new chips offer flexibility, scalability, and outstanding power and performance for bandwidth-intensive applications. Here are some of the key benefits of the new chip:
The 224 Gbps-PAM4-LSR Transceiver features a high-speed I/O and a PAM4 modulation scheme that reduces noise and jitter. These features are key in video applications. In addition, the chips’ low-power designs are in a way to minimize energy consumption. As a result, they are useful for any application where the high-speed video is required.
With a base 10nm design, the new chips feature an ecosystem of chiplets. In addition to enhancing the FPGA’s fabric, Intel offers a range of new features, such as a hardened bfloat16 AI data type, dedicated AI acceleration, and 116G transceivers. They also support PCIe 5.0/CXL and DDR5.
The next generation FPGA is future-proof and uses a chiplet approach. For example, to enable PCIe 5.0, Intel would have to design a new chiplet to support it. And Xilinx would have to develop a monolithic chip to get it. In contrast, Altera’s chiplets will integrate Arm cores and HBM with the FPGA, allowing it to improve time to market and performance.
Another major benefit of these devices is the ability to create highly custom-designed solutions. Using the power and flexibility of FPGAs, Intel is creating an entirely new platform to accelerate the development of advanced applications. Moreover, its software-defined capabilities can leverage its vast ecosystem and partners for a broad range of applications, including high-end video applications.
Design and Development With Intel FPGA
If you want to design and develop circuits for Intel FPGA, you must have an Intel Quartus Prime design software. This software comes in three different versions: Pro Edition, Standard Edition, and Lite Edition. The Pro Edition requires a paid license while the Standard Edition is free. For the Lite Edition, you can download the software for free. In addition, Intel’s Integrated Circuit Design (ICD) software enables you to model digital signal processing algorithms.
The software environment for designing and developing with Intel FPGA has many benefits. For example, designers can generate a high-level design in Simulink and refine it for implementation using FPGA and SoC hardware. During this phase, they can apply optimizations to increase performance and lower FPGA resource usage. Moreover, the hardware cosimulation allows them to verify if their designs actually work on the FPGA.
The Intel FPGA Tutorials describe various design flows. They are meant for laboratories and should be followed accordingly. They also contain version numbers, which correspond to Intel Quartus Prime software versions. With these tutorials, you can design and implement logic circuits for Intel FPGA devices. These tutorials provide a guide on the fundamentals of logic circuits and the design process. They also have sample designs for you to emulate and simulate.
The software and hardware integration of these devices allows for efficient communication between different devices. The MAX 10 FPGAs come with features like analog-to-digital converters and dual-image flash. They also come with SRAM-based configuration cells. They are also capable of supporting the Nios II soft core embedded processor. Despite their small size, they have lots of capabilities. Aside from the software-intensive features, the MAX 10 FPGAs also have GPIO and DSP blocks.
Intel FPGA is one of these innovations that every company would have wanted in their own product development process. It is an innovation that could have a huge impact on the computing world. Intel is one of the top companies that provide machinery for other companies to build on and has a way to implement their technology into other things.