Shortly after Intel started producing the new Stratix 10 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) in November, two customers announced they had used it in creating new prototyping products.
PRO DESIGN Electronic Gmbh announced a prototyping system called proFPGA quad Stratix 10 GX 10M. It has the ability to work with ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) designs with up to 2 billion gates, the company said.
CEO Gunnar Scholl said it was “very challenging to get this huge [Stratix 10 FPGA] device integrated into our proFPGA system concept” but with help of Intel and others managed to do so.
Shortly after, SC2 announced Prodigy Logic Systems based on the Stratix 10 for prototyping large ASIC designs. The system includes single, dual and quad FPGA designs. A single-FPGA system supports an ASIC design as large as 80 million ASIC gates.
SC2 CEO Toshio Nakama said the new Stratix 10 is likely to be the highest-capacity FPGA for two to three years and will simplify the prototyping process for customers with lower costs per gate.
Such prototyping systems are used by semiconductor companies to verify complex chip designs prior to production to reduce risk. These systems can save them millions of dollars by eliminating hardware and software design bugs before the chips are actually fabricated, according to Intel FPGA Vice President of Marketing Patrick Dorsey.
In an interview, Dorsey said designers are constantly trying to produce chips quickly with fewer errors. Designers use FPGAs to work on a variety chips for 5G products as well as AI and networking in general. FPGAs “let people see all the memory contents and all the circuits to go back in time to de-bug,” he said. “Fundamentally, what these companies care about it is the amount of capability you get per square millimeter, so it’s all about capacity per form factor.”
Intel’s Stratix 10 is about 20% bigger than what competitor Xilinx provides. “That matters because you might put up to 30 of these chips in a system and are trying to get fast response time and manage power,” he said.
FPGAs vary in size and prices range from $10,000 to $20,000 a chip, he said. The market is relatively small in volume and number of customers, according to analysts.
The new Stratix 10 uses an advanced bridging process that logically and electrically stitches together two high-density FPGA dies. Each die has 5.1 million logic elements, yielding a density of 10.2 million logic elements that Intel says is the world’s highest capacity FPGA. Xilinx announced a Virtex FPGA in August with 8.9 million logic elements.