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

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

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.

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