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Flex Logix unveils FPGA Core Family for SoC designs

27 Feb 2015  | Clive Maxfield

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One really clever aspect to this technology is that it's not "one size fits all." Instead, the first EFLX offering comprises three cores—the EFLX-100 with 100 4-input LUTs (lookup tables); the EFLX-2.5K with 2,500 LUTs; and the EFLX-10.4K with... well, you get the picture.

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The point is that each of these cores—which are pre-laid-out, pre-characterised, and provided in GDSII format—has an interface designed to support efficient tiling. So a designer requiring only 400 LUTs, for example, could achieve this by "snapping" four EFLX-100 cores together. Furthermore, these cores could be arranged in any way—as a 2x2 square or a 4x1 row, for example—depending on what is required to achieve optimal results.

If successful, this technology could have major ripple effects in the supply chain—semiconductor designers will have the ability to quickly upgrade their designs; equipment manufacturers will be able to modify product lines as required; and end users will be able to optimise the performance of their systems to address their own unique use-cases and to extend their product lifecycles.

As one simple example, consider MCU manufacturers, each of which may have a portfolio comprising hundreds or thousands of processor variations. In many cases, these variations involve relatively minor changes like pinouts and suchlike. Incorporating even a single EFLX-100 core in each MCU could dramatically reduce the number of different MCU options. Also, the ability to customise the MCU's abilities using programmable fabric may have tremendous implications with regard to implementing versatile nodes for use with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Of course, a big consideration is the associated price tag. An MCU manufacturer is not going to be interested in taking a $1 MCU and adding a $5 FPGA core into it, for example. So how much does all this cost? Well, Flex Logix says a single EFLX-100 can be had "for less than a cent," while a single EFLX-2.5K would add less than 15 cents to the cost of a SoC.

As Richard Wawrzyniak, senior market analyst, ASIC & SoC at Semico Research said: "This is something people have been looking for a long time. If it works as advertised, it will prove beneficial for a whole host of applications."


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