General-purpose FPGA family features small form factor, low power - Embedded.com

General-purpose FPGA family features small form factor, low power

Lattice has launched a family of general-purpose FPGA devices, the second family built on its Nexus technology platform. The Certus-NX family offers high I/O density, small form factor, low power consumption and enhanced security features for data co-processing, signal bridging, and system control.

It’s just over a year since Lattice CEO Jim Anderson and the new management team revamped almost every element of the business, refocusing the company on its FPGA offering and adopting a platform-based development approach that makes IP reuse easier.

The company debuted the first product on its Nexus technology platform (built on Samsung Foundry’s 28nm FD-SOI process) in November 2019. Nexus is optimized for small form factor, low power FPGAs with between 10-200k logic cells.

Nexus was also intended to increase new product cadence; the Certus-NX family is the second Nexus product line and comes six months after the first.

“With this renewed focus and platform-based development approach, we have been able to increase our new product cadence by three times compared to our recent historic rate,” said Lattice product marketing manager Juju Joyce told EE Times. “There will be more product announcements coming in second half of this year.”

New brand

Certus is a new brand name for Lattice. The Certus-NX family does not directly follow on from the company’s previous general-purpose FPGA line (ECP-5 and its predecessors) though it is aimed at similar market segments: industrial automation, automotive driver assistance systems, communications infrastructure and the like.

Certus-NX comes in two versions: 17k or 40k logic cells. Each is 6mm x 6mm and has a hardened PCIe block that can support both first- and second- generation PCI interfaces, up to 5 Gbps. Fast programmable I/O supports 1.5 Gbps differential I/O. There are on-chip ADCs, enhanced PLLs and an excellent soft error rate (according to the company), which is a direct benefit of the FD-SOI process technology.


Certus-NX offers instant-on operation: 3 ms to configure the I/Os and 8-14 ms for the rest of the device (Image: Lattice)

“Compared to similar class devices from other vendors, Certus-NX provides packages that are up to three times smaller in size while also supporting high-speed interfaces like PCIe and GigE and at the same time providing two times more I/O per area, enabling the highest number of I/O in a given form factor,” said Joyce. “The I/Os are up to 70% faster and it provides greater security by supporting ECDSA [elliptic curve digital signature algorithm] bit-stream authentication.”

Joyce conceded that “similar class devices from other vendors” included Xilinx Artix-7 and Intel Cyclone V GT, both devices which were released in 2011. The biggest players in this market have not introduced anything new in this class (under 100k logic cells) since then, he said — they have instead refocused away from this market, towards devices with 1 million or more logic cells that are used for acceleration of complex mathematical algorithms in the data center.

This doesn’t mean there is no market for smaller general-purpose FPGA products, though — far from it, Joyce said.

“We see a great opportunity for us to really modernize a space that hasn’t seen any offering from the competition in almost a decade,” Joyce said, pointing out that Lattice has sold more than 1 billion parts into this market in the last 4 years.

Certus-NX devices are already shipping to selected customers.

>> This article was originally published on our sister site, EE Times.

 

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