Achronix Semiconductor: Enabling Data Acceleration Via High-Performance FPGAS And EFPGA IP

Namit Varma,   Sr. Director of the India Technology Center

Namit Varma

Sr. Director of the India Technology Center

Data is being created faster than ever before. Research from IDC estimates that in 2020 64.1 zetabyes of data was created and by 2025 it’s estimated that 175 Zetabytes will be created. With this staggering surge, companies are challenged to derive business value from this data to improve efficiency, safety, and profitability. To derive value from this data, hyperscalers and data center providers are integrating more powerful, cost-efficient, and flexible data processing hardware solutions into their core and edge platforms. The previous approach of simply adding more servers is no longer power, space, or cost-efficient, which is generating an immediate demand for a new approach.

The increased amount of data has also resulted in a significant increase in the usage of FPGAs to offload CPU-only based processing hardware. Designers use FPGAs alongside CPUs to create custom hardware accelerators that deliver higher-performance compute capabilities with power efficiency and flexibility. FPGA-based data accelerators offer the flexibility to reprogram and customize the underlying hardware circuits that support various workloads, even after deployment in the field. Compared to alternative ASIC- or GPU-based accelerators, FPGAs provide a unique balance of flexibility, ASIC-like performance, and lower power consumption compared to GPU-based solutions.

With this significant increase in demand for data acceleration solutions, the market for FPGAs has never been hotter. Semico Research estimates the data acceleration market targeted by Achronix Semiconductor Corporation FPGAs will represent an approximately USD 10 billion market opportunity and is expected to grow at a double-digit CAGR through 2025. Major acquisitions have confirmed this trend with AMD purchasing Xilinx for nearly USD 50 billion in 2022, and Intel purchasing Altera in 2015 for USD 16.7 billion. These acquisitions show the significant value that the world's largest CPU companies see in the FPGA industry to deliver performance, power efficiency, and flexibility improvements to their most critical data center customer segment. In addition, they recognize that CPU or GPU technology alone cannot meet the evolving data acceleration requirements. As a result, the mergers of the two largest FPGA companies with Intel and AMD, which controlled nearly 90% of the FPGA market, have opened opportunities for Achronix to rapidly grow by offering unique differentiated high-end FPGAs and eFPGA IP solutions to the data acceleration market.

Achronix is a private, fabless semiconductor company founded in 2004 with headquarters in Santa Clara, California, development sites in India, Hong Kong and China and worldwide sales offices. Achronix develops high-performance FPGA-based data acceleration solutions, designed to address compute intensive, latency sensitive processing applications such as artificial intelligence(AI), machine learning (ML), 5G, networking, data center, fintech, automotive and industrial. Achronix is the only semiconductor company to offer both high-performance, high-density standalone FPGAs and license embedded FPGA (eFPGA) IP for integration into custom ASICs or SoCs.

High-Performance Data Acceleration
Achronix products include high‐performance standalone FPGAs, eFPGA IP, FPGA design tools, and accelerator card solutions. Speedster 7t FPGAs, built on TSMC’s 7nm FinFET process technology, include a revolutionary new 2D network-on-chip (NoC), an array of machine learning processors (MLPs) optimized for high bandwidth AI/ML workloads, high-bandwidth GDDR6 memory interfaces, DDR4/5 memory interfaces, 112G SerDes, 400G Ethernet, and PCI Express Gen5 ports. The innovative 2D NoC acts as a data superhighway, routing data from the external interfaces to deep within the FPGA device fabric at 2 GHz speeds and provides a robust 20 Tbps of data bandwidth. This feature allows FPGA designers to streamline data distribution throughout the FPGA fabric, delivering high performance without using valuable logic resources.
Speaking about the products, Namit Varma - Sr. Director, India Technology Center says, “The 2D NoC and MLP, as well as the high-speed I/O and memory interfaces make the Speedster7t AC7t1500 a powerhouse for AI/ML applications. Along with the optimized hardware, the Vector Path accelerator card and the Achronix tool suite provide customers with a quick path to prototype their solution and go into production.” In addition to the 2D NoC, the Speedster7t FPGAs memory and I/O interfaces are another major differentiating capability. The Speedster 7t AC7t1500 FPGA uniquely supports eight GDDR6 memory interfaces that provide 4 Tbps of total memory bandwidth. It also includes high‐speed data interfaces with integrated PCIe Gen5 hard controllers that support 768 Gbps of data bandwidth, which is ideal for customers looking to accelerate CPU‐based systems using FPGA hardware accelerators.

It further includes four 400G Ethernet controllers, which provide 1.6 Tbps of data bandwidth. These controllers are ideal for FPGAs when used in networking applications that require high‐bandwidth capabilities. To provide customers an easy way to evaluate Speedster7t FPGAs and go into production, Achronix offers the VectorPath accelerator card, a PCIe form-factor card that includes the Speedster7t AC7t1500 FPGA and supports PCIe Gen4 ×16 and 400G interfaces and 16 GB of GDDR6 memory. Customers who are looking to start an evaluation of Achronix FPGA technology can purchase the Vector Path accelerator card today.

Achronix was granted twice with north america new product innovation award from frost & sullivan for outstanding achievement and superior performance in leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development

Achronix's unique Speedcore eFPGA IP is a FPGA core that can be embedded into an ASIC or SoC where the customer defines the exact amount of FPGA resources required. Speedcore eFPGA IP brings the power and flexibility of programmable logic to ASIC and SoC devices. Customers specify their logic, RAM, MLP, and DSP resource needs, then Achronix delivers the Speedcore IP designed to meet their individual requirements. Speedcore IP leverages the same technology used in Achronix standalone FPGAs, including its look-up tables (LUTs), RAM, MLP, DSP64, and 2D NoC blocks that assemble like building blocks to create the optimal programmable fabric for any given application.

Customized interfaces to other ASIC or SoC IP blocks meet the exact performance and bandwidth required by the customer's application. A personalized version of Achronix tool suite is provided to the customer so they can program the Speedcore IP instance just like they do with a standalone FPGA device. Speedcore eFPGA IP is supported on multiple TSMC process technology nodes ranging from 16nm to 7nm. Achronix leads the eFPGA industry with over 10 million Speedcore eFPGA IP cores shipped into production applications.

Achronix Engineering In India
To develop these innovative products, Achronix has created a strong global engineering team. In 2008, Achronix established its India office in Bangalore, and it has grown to become a strategic engineering hub for Achronix. The India team started to bring all previously outsourced ASIC and SoC development inhouse to Achronix. This team was instrumental in the conceptualization and development of both the 2D NoC and the SoC for the Speedster7t FPGA, as well as the Speedcore interface and integration architecture. This makes Speedcore eFPGA IP similar to other ASIC IP and eases integration into a customer’s SoC device. This level of involvement by the Achronix team in India provides exceptional career growth and learning opportunities.

Typically, US-based organizations use remote teams for the implementation of designs built at the headquarters, but at Achronix, the team in India is involved in the entire end-to-end development process. This organizational design offers the team in India tremendous learning opportunities on the latest technology and allows them to see the significant impact of their work on the success of the company. "One of the differentiating aspects of working at Achronix in India is the ability not just to execute designs, but also to participate fully in the requirements definition and strategy of leading-edge semiconductor technology.

The career growth opportunities are significant and we enable our team to learn the latest semiconductor design skills as well as advance their careers into senior engineering and senior management roles. Our India team works alongside the Achronix team in Santa Clara, California to develop the company's most strategic technology assets." According to the company, “The Achronix team in India is always looking for new talent to join the team. Specifically, individuals with skills in high-speed SerDes design, DFT, memory IP, IO subsystems, package design, signal integrity, and physical design are in high demand. We are hiring at all levels of experience and offer competitive benefits to work at a pre-IPO company in a high growth field within the semiconductor industry. Apply today at”

Namit Varma, Sr. Director of the India Technology Center
Namit has been with Achronix for 14 years and he currently leads the Achronix team in India. His career path started as a Physical Design Engineer, then Senior Manager of Hardware Engineering, and now Senior Director of Hardware Engineering for the past five years.