Xilinx reveals FPGA & programmable SoC product plans for 16-nm silicon technology

February 24, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
The programmable-logic maker has announced new product ranges and updates in a number of areas; forthcoming high-end product in 16-nm finFET processes; new processor options in its system-on-chip (Zynq) offering; and larger embedded memories in some of its devices.

There is a virtual blizzard of new and modified product names and brand identities to penetrate; the high-end FPGAs become UltraScale+; Zynq gains multi-core hard processors (“All-programmable MPSoC”); embedded memory options are UltraRAM; and a revised interconnect strategy is SmartConnect. This release predominantly gives details of device plans ahead of availability, setting out product plans for forthcoming quarters to enable designs to begin ahead of device delivery.

A fix on that pipeline is that Xilinx says that some of its 20nm devices are now starting to move to full production: however, some of the performance (particularly, performance-per-Watt) comparisons are made from the current 28-nm product direct to the planned 16-nm step. One other piece of branding of note is that the company refers to “3D-on-3D”. The first 3D alludes to the use of 3D transistors (that is, non-planar, or finFET); the second to its multi-die fabrication of its largest devices. This continues to use active devices side-by-side on a passive silicon interposer, often characterised as “2½D”.

Some of the application spaces that Xilinx is targeting with this generation include LTE Advanced and early 5G wireless, terabit wired communications, automotive ADAS, and industrial IoT.

The announcement is of the 16nm UltraScale+ family of FPGAs, 3D ICs and MPSoCs, combining new memory, 3D-on-3D and multi-processing SoC (MPSoC) technologies. The UltraScale+ family also includes a new interconnect optimisation technology, SmartConnect. These devices extend Xilinx’s UltraScale portfolio - now spanning 20nm and 16nm FPGA, SoC and 3D IC devices - and gain a significant boost in performance/watt from TSMC’s 16FF+ FinFET 3D transistors.

With “optimisation at the system level” Xilinx says that the step to UltraScale+ delivers much more of an increment than does a traditional process node migration – providing 2–5X greater system level performance/watt over 28nm devices, more systems integration and intelligence, and the highest level of security and safety.

The UltraScale+ FPGA portfolio comprises Xilinx’s Kintex UltraScale+ FPGA and Virtex UltraScale+