Xilinx Says Its New FPGA is World’s Largest

By Doug Black

August 21, 2019

In this age of exploding “technology disaggregation” – in which the Big Bang emanating from the Intel x86 CPU has produced significant advances in CPU chips and a raft of alternative, accelerated architectures – has incited a permanent struggle comprised of permanent processor foes struggling for dominance in their product categories. One of them is FPGA kingpin Xilinx, which today announced what it claims is the world’s largest FPGA, featuring 9 million system logic cells.

The company’s new 16 nm Virtex UltraScale+ VU19P device incorporates 35 billion transistors to deliver “the highest logic density and I/) count on a signel device ever built,” Xilinx said, “enabling emulation and prototyping of tomorrow’s most advanced ASIC and SoC technologies,” along with test, measurement, compute, networking, aerospace, video processing, sensor fusion and defense-related applications.

The VU19P is a monster. According to Xilinx, it has up to 1.5 terabits per-second of DDR4 memory bandwidth, up to 4.5 terabits per-second of transceiver bandwidth and more than 2,000 user I/Os. The company said the chip is 1.6X larger than its predecessor, which had been industry’s largest FPGA, the 20 nm Virtex UltraScale 440 FPGA.

“The VU19P enables developers to accelerate hardware validation and begin software integration before their ASIC or SoC is available,” said Sumit Shah, Xilinx senior director, product line marketing and management. “This is our third generation of world-record FPGAs. First was the Virtex-7 2000T, followed by the Virtex UltraScale VU440, and now the Virtex UltraScale+ VU19P. But this is more than silicon technology; we’re providing robust and proven tool flows and IP to support it.”

Xilinx, of course, is in a long-term competition primarily with Intel to remain on top of the FPGA market. According to industry watcher Gartner in a report last April, Xilinx has a 51 percent share, compared with Intel at 36 percent and followed by Microchip at 6.6 percent. Earlier this month, the two market leaders announced new accelerator cards designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads in data center servers, unburdening overworked CPUs.

Xilinx’s new FPGA is the 14th member of Virtex UltraScale family of processors, “so it’s built on a production-proven foundation,” said Mike Thompson, senior marketing manager, Xilinx. “Every functional block in the VU19P already is in mass production in the rest of the Virtex UltraScale family, and in fact in production in a lot of other products across two generations.”

Xilinx said the VU19P is supported by a set of debug, visibility tools, and IP for a development platform to design and validate next-generation applications and technologies. Hardware and software co-validation allows developers to bring up software and implement custom features before physical parts are available, the company said.

“Arm relies on Xilinx devices as part of our process for validating our next-generation processor IP and SoC technology,” said Tran Nguyen, director of design services, Arm. “The new VU19P will further enable Arm, and many others in our ecosystem, to accelerate the design, development and validation of our most ambitious roadmap technologies.”

Xilinx said the VU19P will be generally available in the fall of 2020.

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