Welcome Xilinx UltraScale+ and Zynq UltraScale+

This week Xilinx announced UltraScale+ and Zynq UltraScale+, its new family of 16 nm TSMC 16FF+ FinFET based FPGA and FPGA-MPSoC products. First tape out in 2Q15, first product ship 4Q15.

In the old days one could read a new FPGA’s ~30 page data sheet, digest it for an hour, and write a concise summary of all the new capabilities. But these UltraScale+ devices and tools, designed to appeal to diverse markets and applications, are so comprehensive and complex as to defy such a short take. Instead you ought to set aside some quality time to review these overview documents and pages:

In lieu of an overview summary, here are three new UltraScale+ highlights that are most significant and enabling from my perspective:

  1. Energy efficiency: the 16 nm FinFETs bring a one technology node reprieve of classic Dennard Scaling. In particular “The -1L and -2L speed grades in the UltraScale+ families can run at one of two different Vccint operating voltages. At 0.72V, they operate at similar performance to the Kintex UltraScale and Virtex UltraScale devices with up to 30% reduction in power consumption. At 0.85V, they consume similar power to the Kintex UltraScale and Virtex UltraScale devices, but operate over 30% faster.” The process advance and numerous architectural and IP/tool advances will provide welcome and enabling power savings.
  2. SRAM memory capacity: the new UltraRAM tier of block RAM, dual port 4Kx72 (32 KB), complements good old RAMB36 block RAM, dual port 1Kx36 (~4 KB). The new devices include 320-1536 UltraRAM blocks (90-432 Mb, 10-49 MB) of high bandwidth integrated SRAM. Just as an example, in the largest announced device, XCVU13P, there is SRAM enough for 1024 soft processor cores to each have a private 4 KB L1 I$, 4 KB L1 D$, and 32 KB L2$, and also share a many-banked 16 MB L3$ (wow!), not including leftover BRAM and all the distributed LUT RAM.
  3. MPSoC: the four 64b ARM Cortex-A53 cores, MALI GPU, 64b/72b DDR4 DRAM, much greater PS-PL interconnect, and many, many other features, in this “Zynq v2” line, reposition it from limited embedded system roles (<= 1 GB DRAM) towards hosting almost any application scenario you can imagine, from Android ultrasound tablets to driver assist (can we say “self driving cars” yet?) to data center accelerators.

I congratulate and thank the thousands of staff at Xilinx, TSMC, ARM, and their partners for another stupendous engineering tour de force that will enable us to develop myriad new applications and change the world.

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