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Xilinx announces low-cost I/O optimized FPGAs

Posted: 22 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:FPGA? Xilinx? programmable device? programmable devices? Spartan-3?

Xilinx's new Spartan-3A FPGA

Xilinx Inc. recently launched Spartan-3A FPGA optimized for IO intensive applications, its latest offering of its Spartan-3 generation. Built on 90nm technology, Spartan-3A family consists of five devices offering up to 1.4 million system gates and 502 I/Os and offer the lowest cost per I/O.

According to the company, the addition of I/O optimized platform, expands the range of the Spartan Series, which has grown to 26 percent of Xilinx' total revenue. Since the Spartan introduction in 1998, the company has shipped 200 million units to date.

Anti-cloning capabilities
In an interview with EE Times-Asia, Christophe Chene, director, marketing and applications, general products division at Xilinx, said that aside from providing more flexibility with the widest rage of I/O standards (26), Spartan-3A is the only low-cost FPGA that handles two different low power modes.

The new FPGA also allows better design margins for engineers and ensures a good yield in production. Chene said that engineers spend a lot of time characterizing their systems and designs for good margins and 3A makes it very easy and quick to do so.

Another feature of Spartan-3A is anti-cloning security, which according to Chene, addresses two issuesdirect copying of a system and puts it in production and overbuilding in companies using a contact manufacturer, which then produces more than what was agreed and sells the rest to the black market.

"There has been a lot of demand for a long time to add more security features to the product especially when it comes to FPGA designs because customers tend to put all their IP in the FPGA. Avoiding cloning is especially important because systems which are mostly cloned today are consumer systems," Chene said.

He further explained that in the Spartan-3A, there is a device DNA, which is a unique identifier programmed into the device when it is being manufactured. The unique number, which is 57bit long, is completely programmable allowing engineers to architect the system so that when the authentication fails, the system does not work, or works in limited functionality or in full but for a limited amount of time.

Optimized solutions
With the release of Spartan-3A, Chene said that engineers now "don't have to make compromises to select a device that is closer what they need. They have something to pick that is exactly what they need." He added that Spartan-3A complements Spartan-3E, which is optimized for logic and Spartan-3, which is optimized for higher density and pin-count applications.

Chene: It is important for us to increase our presence in Southern China, where we see tremendous amount of activities going on.

"Those three platforms together provide optimized solutions for different markets. That concept of platform-optimized FPGAs is something new in the industry. It's also the first time that we are operating the same platform approach into high volume low-cost FPGAs," Chene said.

Xilinx currently has 52 percent market share for PLDs and 57 percent for FPGAs. Chene added that with the release of Spartan-3A, they are very optimistic to expand their market share.

Asian focus
With the growth of its Spartan FPGA products, especially in consumer-type applications, Xilinx had recently put up a Spartan application team in Shenzhen, China to focus on its customers in the Asia Pacific region. According to Chene, the team was established to provide assistance to customers in their systems and give generic solutions to help them get to production faster. Having the team work closely with the customers "really helps us make new products that are in line with what Asian customers are looking for in the future," he said.

"It is important for us to increase our presence in Southern China, where we see tremendous amount of activities going on," Chene added. "Asia Pacific is a key area for us. That is why we made the announcement in Asia, to show our commitment here. We are gearing our product portfolio to better address our customers in this area."

- Rhea Barua
Electronic Engineering Times - Asia

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