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Xilinx to unleash 16nm UltraScale MPSoCs

Posted: 11 Mar 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Xilinx  microcontroller  MPSoC  ARM  FPGA 

Steve Glaser, SVP of corporate strategy and marketing for Xilinx, has recently revealed that the firm's line of UltraScale MPSoC devices will be introduced at the 16nm technology node. To those who find this unveiling quite puzzling, here's a look-back at Xilinx's technology releases.

When Xilinx adopted the 28nm technology node, it released its lowest-power, smallest-form-factor Artix; its best price-and-performance per watt Kintex; and its high-capacity, high-bandwidth Virtex families at this node. It also released its Zynq All Programmable SoC devices at the 28nm node.

The current All Programmable SoC at the 28nm technology node, the Zynq, is hardware, software and I/O programmable. It boasts a homogenous dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MCU subsystem (running at up to 1GHz and including floating-point engines, on-chip cache, counters, timers, etc.), coupled with a wide range of hard-core interface functions (SPI, I2C, CAN, etc.) and a hard core dynamic memory controller. All this is augmented by a large quantity of traditional programmable fabric and a substantial number of general-purpose input/output pins.

When we come to the 20nm technology node, only the Kintex and Virtex families are being brought forward with the UltraScale architecture. The Artix family will hold the fort at the 28nm node. When we say UltraScale, we're talking about a radical FPGA architecture that offers massive, ASIC-class, I/O bandwidth, memory bandwidth and DSP processing capabilities. In the case of the programmable fabric, we're talking about millions of logic cells all supported by ASIC-class data-flow and routing resources.

16nm UltraScale MPSoCs

The first 20nm UltraScale devices started shipping in December, but Xilinx is already looking to the 16nm future. In addition to UltraScale FPGAs and 3D ICs, the company will field a family of 16nm multi-processor SoCs (MPSoCs). In addition to UltraScale FPGA fabric, these devices will boast a heterogeneous multicore processing capability.

The software-programmable portion of this image shows and ARM processing element augmented with real-time, graphics, video, waveform and packet processing units. Xilinx isn't releasing too many details at this time. In particular, it is being very cagey about the identity of the ARM core(s). It will say these devices will offer a combination of new and next-generation processing and programmable engines optimized for different application tasks. Also, the devices will be scalable from 32-64bits with support for virtualization. This scalability includes CPU, interconnect, peripherals, processing engines and an address space measured in terabytes.

My understanding is that different members of the family will be targeted toward different applications, as illustrated below.

16nm UltraScale MPSoCs target applications

- Max Maxfield
  EE Times

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