Wednesday, October 04, 2006

FPGAs make a bigger play in the x86

Interesting to watch how FPGA makers such as Altera and Xilinx are getting more cozy with the x86 computing world these days.

I had a chance to chat (remotely) with Xilinx CTO Ivo Bolsens who made a rare appearance at the Intel Developer Forum last week. Among others news bits, both Altera and Xilinx announced they had licensed Intel’s front-side bus (FSB) so they can build products linking to it.

Once upon a time, Intel kept an iron grip on its CPU bus technology, licensing only a very few chip set makers to keep the PC ecosystem thriving. But it’s a different day with Advanced Micro Devices putting on a full court press to get chipmakers hopping on its coherent HyperTransport (cHT) bus, although it sounds to me like clear terms for a cHT license are still being hammered out.

In the short term, expect to see more FPGAs in high performance computers for specialty applications. Cray has already given the green light to this idea for systems to ship in 2007, using FPGAs from DRC Computer Corp.

As the era of multi-core computing matures FPGAs and a host of other co-processors will become ever more strategic. Watch this space. --rbm

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Anonymous said...

Is Intel genuine in its desire to help these partners or using them to gain insight into how the applications work, where the bottlenecks are, what is required from software.....? Grove used to talk about being paranoid did not mean that someone is not out to get you. The same can be stated here. Intel is out to get the FPGA vendors knowledge and incorporate it into their multi-core processor technology. This assertion is supported by Intel's white papers such as the Terrascale overview where they discuss how these extreme core count processors will take over graphics, imaging, content analysis, networking, and so forth - basically, they are intent on building a one-stop computational engine that replaces any value-add components within a platform with its processors and perhaps low-level software. The intent it clear - eliminate dependency on the industry to advance technology to meet Intel's objectives. Partnerships are simply a stepping stone on the way to Application + OS + Intel = solution. If the OS and applications are all free due to being open source, the only ones making money on the platform are service providers and Intel. Who do you think will come out with the profit margin in that equation?

Anonymous said...

Is Intel genuine in its desire to help these partners or using them to gain insight into how the applications work, where the bottlenecks are, what is required from software.....? Grove used to talk about being paranoid did not mean that someone is not out to get you. The same can be stated here. Intel is out to get the FPGA vendors knowledge and incorporate it into their multi-core processor technology. This assertion is supported by Intel's white papers such as the Terrascale overview where they discuss how these extreme core count processors will take over graphics, imaging, content analysis, networking, and so forth - basically, they are intent on building a one-stop computational engine that replaces any value-add components within a platform with its processors and perhaps low-level software. The intent it clear - eliminate dependency on the industry to advance technology to meet Intel's objectives. Partnerships are simply a stepping stone on the way to Application + OS + Intel = solution. If the OS and applications are all free due to being open source, the only ones making money on the platform are service providers and Intel. Who do you think will come out with the profit margin in that equation?

 
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