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Happy Birthday Xilinx

Happy Birthday Xilinx
by Luke Miller on 02-14-2014 at 4:00 pm

I have never done this before, wished a company happy birthday. So here goes, Happy Birthday Xilinx! How does it feel to be 30? Looking good eh? Signing up for AARP? My family and I just sang and had cake and ice cream. They did look at me like I was nuts when I set a place at the table for a Xilinx FPGA. In all seriousness, over the years Xilinx has grown from your grandma’s plain old PLD to the only World Leader in the (SoC) ‘System on a Chip’ All Programmable FPGAs (you know what I’m trying to say). You are not going to find a better SoC FPGA, and the gap widens as Xilinx pulls away from Altera and owns 70% of the 28nm market, and will dominate the next nodes and beyond.

Xilinx’s transformation did not happen by chance or overnight. A company is made of up of people. Knowing many of the people at Xilinx, these people describe ‘Excellence’. The people believe in the product, their leadership and truly have a love for the customer. They also are the brightest and best in the world. When Moshe became CEO in 2008 he brought a necessary mindset with him, which is an EDA mind. FPGAs are not all about silicon. You can have the best FPGAs in the world but the tools make the FPGAs breathe life. What has changed since 2008? Pretty much everything. No the baby was not thrown out with the bath water but I now liken Xilinx to the old Ford Motor Company. Raw materials would come in, and a car would come out every 24 seconds. Xilinx not only has a software team, but the world’s best. Same for layout, design, DSP, Analogue, Power, Reliability, IP, HLS, Anti-Tamper, services, interface designs… the list is near endless. What I mean is Xilinx could spin another company for EDA if they wanted to because their team is so strong. The only thing Xilinx does not do is fab the FPGAs, which is the correct business model.

In 2011, Moshe and team purchased AutoESL and created Vivado HLS, the world’s fastest way to program an FPGA in an open C/C++ or SystemC language. Then Xilinx committed vast amounts of resource to change the way place and route is done from annealing to a analytic solver, not a trivial task. So dear reader, you may think this is fluffy or biased but the proof is in the pudding. Compare the Errata over at Altera’s 28nm to Xilinx’s 28nm and it’s not even a race. In my humble opinion, Errata is bar of how well a team is executing and understanding the internal and external environments. The Xilinx 28nm node is near Errata free (Stop and just think about that, that is amazing), with a few stragglers for the ARM core beyond Xilinx’s control. They’re not perfect but they believe they’re the best and say that in humility. Xilinx’s claims for SoC’s FPGAs and such are factual and are not manipulated. They say what they mean and strive for accuracy and transparency.

Xilinx is not just an FPGA company, they are the leader in 3D IC, SSIT on the second generation already. Xilinx was the first to 28nm, first to Zynq (ARM) SoC, first ASIC class architecture, first to 20nm, first to 4 Million LC’s (think about that), first to ASIC/SoC tools. Please dear reader do not read this as blog as tooting ones horn, but how should one respond to the Altera claims ‘Industry-leading FPGA devices’, I say look to the errata and look to the market share. Or claims, ‘the fastest compile times’. This plot below shows the reality of compile times.

Xilinx’s UltraFast methodology is the fastest FPGA router in the planet. My question to my readers is why are you still using Altera? Maybe you had a bad experience some time ago, or someone rubbed you the wrong way, maybe it’s time for a change? All I can say is Xilinx is not the same as it was years ago, and their reputation and leadership proves it. See if these things be so and explore the world of Xilinx…how can they help you?

More articles by Luke Miller…

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