Mid-range, flash-based FPGAs offer 500 LEs, 12.7G SerDes

February 15, 2017 // By Graham Prophet
Microsemi positions its PolarFire range of FPGAs as the lowest power, cost-optimized FPGA product family for access networks, wireless infrastructure, defence and industry 4.0 markets, and claims a cost advantage over alternative FPGAs of 50%.

The programmables offer up to 500k logic elements, 12.7G transceivers at up to 50% lower power than competing mid-range FPGAs, and also feature optimised security and reliability. Microsemi aims the product familyfor a range of applications within wireline access networks and cellular infrastructure, defence and commercial aviation markets, as well as industry 4.0 which includes the industrial automation and Internet of Things (IoT) markets.


Bruce Weyer, vice president and business unit manager at Microsemi, says, “... a non-volatile FPGA, with all its known benefits, provides tangible power and cost benefits over SRAM FPGAs that feature 10 Gpbs transceivers—thus delivering differentiation … [and] simultaneously filling a void in the market.” This chart from Microsemi's presentation shows (in various shades of blue) the sectors of the programmables market that it seeks to address.

For the communications infrastructure market, Microsemi presents these devices as providing cost-effective bandwidth processing capabilities for the increasing number of converged 10 Gpbs ports with the lowest power footprint. The new FPGA product family also contains features to address the market’s concerns over cyber security threats as well as reliability concerns that face deep submicron SRAM-based FPGAs as they relate to single event upsets (SEUs) in their configuration memory. The company says that a radiation-induced event that could 'flip' a bit in the configuration SRAM of a competitive part would leave its non-volatile configuration memory unaffected. Additional features to aid with reliability include built-in single error correction and double error detection (SECDED) as well as memory interleaving on large static random access memory (LSRAMs), and system controller suspend mode for safety critical design

Applications sought in the communications market include wireline access, network edge, metro (1-40G); wireless heterogeneous networks, wireless backhaul, smart optical modules and video broadcasting. The devices are also suited to applications within the defence and aerospace market, such as encryption and root of trust, secure wireless communications, radar and electronic warfare (EW), aircraft networking, actuation