Avant FPGA: The pace of innovation never stops
As a landmark event for Lattice to successfully enter the ranks of mid-range FPGA suppliers, the release of the low-power mid-range Avant FPGA platform at the end of 2022 will form Lattice's "strongest product portfolio in history" together with the Nexus FPGA platform. , also helped the company open a new door to an incremental market of US$3 billion.
Unlocking new heights of FPGA innovation
Compared with Nexus products, the Avant platform for communications, computing, industry and automotive fields has been further enhanced in terms of performance and hardware resources. For example, the logical unit capacity has reached 500K, which is an increase compared to the previous configuration of 100K-150K. 5 times; bandwidth increased by 10 times; computing performance increased by 30 times. Compared with similar competing devices, the power consumption and package size are reduced by 2.5 times and 6 times respectively, but the speed is increased by 2 times, enabling higher performance in small-footprint system designs.
"Low power consumption", "advanced interconnection" and "optimized computing" are the three core features of the Avant platform. Compared with existing mid-range FPGAs, it benefits from a programmable structure designed for low power consumption, power-optimized embedded memory and DSP, low-power high-performance SERDES and I/O design, built-in protocol logic, etc. Through comprehensive optimization measures, the power consumption of Avant series products has been significantly reduced, which can help system and application engineers greatly improve the efficiency of power consumption and heat dissipation design, reduce operating costs, and enhance reliability.
In terms of SERDES interconnection, currently, Avant can support up to 25G SERDES, while the highest SERDES rate that Lattice products can achieve in the past is 16G. In addition, PCIe interface support has also been upgraded to Gen 4 x8, and memory support has been extended from LPDDR4 to DDR5.
"Optimized computing" includes two parts: First, aiming at AI inference applications, the DSP and embedded storage distribution in the on-chip computing unit are strengthened and optimized respectively, which is more conducive to edge computing; second, a security engine is added and Optimized and strengthened the encryption algorithm.
As with any new embedded design, security must come first. To this end, Lattice engineers have implemented a wide range of security features in the Avant platform, such as AES256-GCM, ECC, RSA, tamper resistance and physically undetectable functions (PUF). These features enable both configuration and user data to be encrypted and authenticated, providing a high level of protection against malicious attacks on the FPGA. Additionally, soft error detection and correction ensures that environmental effects causing soft errors can be quickly detected so that appropriate actions can be initiated.
As a new product series, it is very natural to successively launch products with different capacities, interfaces, controls, and video specifications for different application scenarios and needs. Therefore, following the launch of Avant-E, a "low-power FPGA optimized for network edge applications" in December 2022, at the first online developer conference in 2023, Lattice released a "cutting-edge general-purpose FPGA" "Avant-G" and "Advanced Interconnect FPGA" Avant-X, there are certain differences in the target market and Avant-E.
Key features of Avant-G include leading signal processing and AI, highly flexible I/O supporting various system interfaces, and a dedicated LPDDR4 2400Mbps interface that can provide up to 637K density system logic units, up to 28-12.5G SerDes , and up to 7200 INT8 multipliers and 35.6Mb of embedded memory. Due to its higher SERDES speed and high-speed IO embedded memory, it is very suitable for bridging functions, and its strong scalability makes it suitable for system designs of different sizes.
Avant-X, which is more oriented to "signal aggregation" and "system throughput improvement" applications, has the smallest package size among similar products, can provide up to 637K density system logic units and up to 28-25G SerDes, and can support 1TB /s of total system bandwidth, and also implements the PCIe Gen 4 controller feature with hard DMA. Up to 7200 INT8 multipliers and 35.6Mb of embedded memory enable efficient implementation of AI/ML algorithms and packet buffering of high-speed interfaces. Coupled with security engine enhancements, customer data can be encrypted on the fly.
The software and solution stacks supporting the hardware products have also been updated simultaneously with the products, including Lattice sensAI for AI, Lattice mVision for embedded vision, Lattice Sentry for security functions, and Lattice Automate for automated factories. Customers can further accelerate development and time to market by upgrading accelerator engines to improve performance, expand IP and reference designs, add security features, and enable more industry standards.
Specifically, Lattice sensAI performance has been improved by 3 times to "support more network barcode detection and video analysis"; Lattice mVision provides more extended sensor/video bridging solutions, such as MIPI to HDMI, SLVS-EC/MIPI to PCIe; Lattice Sentry "In terms of network resilience and trust, the platform firmware protection recovery (PFR) based on Mach-NX continues to be improved, making the system easier to protect, detect and recover"; Lattice Automate, in addition to ordinary communication protocols, strengthens OPC UA Support, including motor control reference design.
In terms of software tools, Lattice Propel and Lattice Radiant™ software fully support the new Lattice Avant-G and Avant-X FPGA families, introduce enhanced ease of use and scripting for Radiant, and expand the Propel IP product portfolio to help improve customers' Design experiences and design environments. At the same time, advanced vision software Glance by Mirametrix adds Smart Avatar privacy features and low-power 3D head pose detection, helping to enhance its applicability in network edge applications in various markets.
More application scenarios
Network edge intelligence, sensor-to-cloud interconnection and elastic security mechanisms are not only important technological innovations in Avant's new products, but also the representative scenarios that best leverage the advantages of Avant FPGA.
For example, in video interconnection and AI inference scenarios, because Lattice FPGA supports the higher SERDES speed protocol, the performance can be improved by 2 times than other FPGAs, and the AI inference performance is 35 times improved than MCU. This is very important for the industrial control and edge AI fields that pursue real-time response. It's undoubtedly good news. In the low-power storage transmission system, thanks to the energy-efficient storage interface design of Avant-G/X, the power consumption of the entire system can not only be reduced by 2.5 times, but also the thermal design is simpler, and the battery life of the product is also longer.
Another typical edge AI enhanced application comes from the field of industrial security, that is, "identifying known operators, discovering 'focused/distracted operators', and issuing warnings." This is to achieve safety and protection through user authentication and improve Safety, and optimized representative cases of energy efficiency.
In terms of platform firmware protection and recovery and data protection, Avant benefits from Lattice’s advantages in security agility, response to post-quantum threats and root of trust, as well as “security protection that is the first to power on and the last to power off”. The power-on speed is achieved within 50ms, and the configuration time is increased by more than 10 times, thereby simplifying the system design, optimizing the end-user experience, and improving security and stability.
Currently, more and more industry markets require FPGAs to be customized according to customer needs or to provide better solutions to industry pain points. Therefore, how to get out of the traditional general-purpose application market and provide applications more suitable for each industry based on industry differences and distinctions is a new development opportunity for FPGA, as well as a new challenge. Lattice is leveraging its rapidly expanding hardware and software portfolio to help customers accelerate designs with higher levels of energy efficiency and performance, ushering in the next era of innovation.
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