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New FPGA Products: FPGA System-on-Chip with RISC-V Hardcores Arrives

Date: Oct 25, 2021

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Not long ago, Microchip issued a press release introducing its new medium bandwidth field programmable gate array (FPGA) and FPGA system-on-chip (SoC) devices. According to its press release, the new FPGA and SoC products reduce static power consumption by half and have the smallest heat area compared to comparable devices, without losing performance and computational power. The new products are the low-density PolarFire FPGA (MPF050T) and PolarFire SoC (MPFS025T).

PolarFire series FPGA specific parameters.png

Figure: PolarFire series FPGA specific parameters (source: Microchip official website)


Specific parameters

Here we take a look at the specific parameters of these two new FPGA products. microchip's official website has the specific parameters of these two new products, such as with 2MB of L2 cache, support for low-power DDR4 (LPDDR4) memory, support for up to 12.5Gbps SerDes, and support for PCIe interface, etc..

In addition, the new PolarFire series FPGAs have more efficient DSP modules; are mainly used for 4K/2K image processing and support MIPI's CSI-2 protocol; support interfaces for image sensors, such as SLVS-EC; have greatly optimized static power consumption, officially claiming that the power consumption is only one-tenth of the competitors, and SerDes power consumption has also been greatly improved; have The smaller package size, as well as the perfect RISC-V ecosystem.

The PolarFire FPGA SoC also features a hardened application-grade RISC-V architecture processor and supports a five-core Linux processor subsystem, bringing an innovative royalty-free, mid-range embedded computing platform to the market.

Functional block diagram of PolarFire FPGA SoC.png

Figure: Functional block diagram of PolarFire FPGA SoC (Source: Microchip's datasheet)

The RISC-V CPU microarchitecture implementation is a simple five-stage single-fire sequential pipeline that is immune to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerability exploits present in commonly used out-of-order machines. All five CPU cores are aligned with the memory subsystem, supporting a versatile combination of deterministic real-time systems and Linux in a single multi-core CPU cluster.

Microchip's FPGA Product Line and Features

Microchip's FPGA product line is actually derived primarily from Microsemi, which was acquired in 2018.Microsemi's products include high-performance radiation-tolerant analog mixed-signal ICs, FPGAs, SoCs and ASICs, power management products, timing/synchronization devices and precision time solutions that set global time standards, voice processor devices, RF solutions, discrete components, enterprise storage and communication solutions, security technologies and scalable tamper-proof products, Ethernet solutions, Power over Ethernet ICs and intermediate cross-connect solutions, and other custom design capabilities and services. Among these, FPGAs are its most important product line.

Today Microchip has three main FPGA product lines, namely, ultra-low density FPGAs, low-power medium density FPGAs, and high density FPGAs.

It is reported that Microchip's FPGA products have four main features, one is the low power consumption, the official description said, about 50% lower than the competition; second is the proven security, because its products have a lot of built-in security and encryption engine; third is the SEU-immune FPGA configuration, SEU refers to the single-particle flip (Single-Event Upsets, SEU (SEU), specifically the components are affected by radiation, causing a jump in the potential state, "0" into "1", or "1" into "0 ", but generally does not cause physical damage to the device; four is instantaneous and non-volatile, power on immediately can work, no configuration process.

Application Scenarios

In general, the need for high-speed signal processing, such as radar signals, image signal acquisition, communication signals and other real-time requirements are relatively high, the need for parallel and pipeline processing occasions, will need to use FPGA to implement. Because Microchip has lower power consumption, it can be used in low-power intelligent embedded vision applications and heat-constrained automotive, industrial automation, communications, defense, and IoT systems.

About availability

Developers can develop new products with Microchip's Libero software tool, which already supports the latest PolarFire FPGA and FPGA SoC products, although volume shipments of new FPGA products will not be available until the first quarter of 2022, according to the report.


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