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Comment: Reading the Intel E6x5C Platform Brief... (Score 5, Informative) 188

by Jan (#34315174) Attached to: Intel Launches Atom CPU With Integrated FPGA

Before you all speculate widely, try reviewing the actual product brief. http://download.intel.com/embedded/processors/prodbrief/324535.pdf . In which you will see this is an MCM with an Atom E6xx SoC die and an Altera FPGA die, interconnected by 1-2 PCIe x1 links. It has an amazing 1466 ball grid array package.

It's not clear to me what this level of packaging and integration achieves compared to mounting a (not integrated) E6xx BGA and a separate Altera or Xilinx FPGA BGA onto the main PCB, interconnected by PCIe x1 or perhaps even x4. Then you would get a broader choice of FPGAs -- and perhaps a simpler PCB escape for the two packages compared to one 1466 ball beast.

The advantages of this MCM as stated in the brief include:
* reduced board footprint
* lower component count
* simplified inventory control / manufacturing
* single-vendor support

True, but forgive me if I'm not over the moon. The dream of integrated FPGA fabric into a heterogeneous SoC (same die) includes a very low latency and possibly cache coherent interconect between the processor(s) and the FPGA. But here the FPGA is on the other side of a narrow PCIe link. It can't share the Atom SoC's memory hierarchy / DRAM channels very effectively. It is probably a very long latency round trip from x86 software control / registers and L1$ data, to some registers or function units in the FPGA, and back to the x86. So I think of this as more of a super-flexible Atom SoC platform than a dream reconfigurable computing platform.

It's a nice step but I look forward to so much more.

http://www.fpgacpu.org/usenet/fpgas_as_pc_coprocessors.html (1996): "... So as long as FPGAs are attached on relatively glacially slow I/O buses
-- including 32-bit 33 MHz PCI -- it seems unlikely they will be of much use in general purpose PC processor acceleration. ..."

Comment: In particular... (Score 5, Informative) 188

by Jan (#34315082) Attached to: Intel Launches Atom CPU With Integrated FPGA

Altera used to have FPGAs with an embedded ARM core + support "stripe" (Excalibur, early 2000s) -- e.g. Altera Excalibur EPXA10.

Of course Xilinx has announced a family of 7 series FPGAs with ARM Cortex-A9MPCore cores. http://www.xilinx.com/technology/roadmap/processing-platform.htm

Both Xilinx and Altera also have in-house soft-processor cores and infrastructure, and ecosystems of third-party soft processor cores.

"Indecision is the basis of flexibility" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.

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