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Achronix teams up for data center PCIe card sales

Achronix teams up for data center PCIe card sales

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By Peter Clarke



The two companies have launched the VectorPath accelerator card based on Speedter7t FPGAs. This represents a decided upgrade from the ‘Accelerator 6D’ card based on the Speedster 22i HD1000 FPGA, that Achronix was offering in 2016 (see Achronix offers accelerator board for data centers).

The deal is non-exclusive allowing Achronix to sell FPGAs to other board makers and Bittware to use other companies’ FPGAs To Bittware has used Xilinx FPGAs. However Steve Mensor, vice president of sales and marketing at Achronix, said the deal was a strategic one allowing Bittware to make use of 7nm FPGAs from Achronix with a number of features well suited to machine learning acceleration and other forms that are frequently present in the data center. At the same time Achronix gains market insight and access from Bittware, which already has customers in this field.

“Instead of the usual arm’s length dealing, together we can identify opportunities. Bittware talks to companies we wouldn’t and vice versa,” said Mensor.

The VectorPath S7t-VG6 accelerator card features the 7nm Speedster AC7t1500 FPGA which offers 1x400GbE and 2x100GbE interfaces and 8 banks of GDDR6 memory with aggregate bandwidth of 4Tbps.

In particular, the Speedster 7t has a 20Tbps two-dimensional network-on-chip (NoC) and extensive work done in hardware and firmware to ease the integration of IP blocks on the FPGA fabric. “Companies that buy this card will want to import IP accelerators. It needs to be easy for them to connect IP blocks. The 2D-NOC does a lot of the work; like arbitration of addressing, connectivity, reset and data ordering.

Next: Data formats


The VectorPath accelerator card includes a full suite of Achronix’s ACE development tools along with BittWare’s board management controller and developer toolkit which includes the API, PCIe drivers, diagnostic self-test and application example designs to enable a rapid out-of-the-box experience.

The FPGAs support 4bit, 8bit and 16bit integers as well as FP16, FP24 and newer floating point formats such as Bfloat16, Block float 16 and Block float 12.

When asked why data center designers would not opt for PCIe cards that include dedicated ML/AI processors, which would likely outperform FPGAs at the tasks those processors were optimized for, Mensor said data center designers also value flexibility and need to address a variety of workloads in compression, security, encryption and database handling and having FPGA-based cards could address this as well as ML/AI loads that may yet differ from what some processors are optimized for.

First S7t-VG6 shipments are scheduled to begin early Q2 2020.

Related links and articles:

www.achronix.com

www.bittware.com

News articles:

Achronix offers accelerator board for data centers

China’s FPGA vendor offers AI support

Silex Insights offers security IP for Xilinx FPGAs

FPGA startup delivers first product

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