Low-cost European FPGA launched with IPCEI support

Low-cost European FPGA launched with IPCEI support

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Cologne Chip AG, a long-time provider of telecommunications chipsets and IP, has launched a family of small- to medium-sized FPGAs under the family name GateMate. The chips are manufactured for Cologne Chip by Globalfoundries Inc. in Dresden, Germany, using its 28nm CMOS process called 28SLP.

The GateMate FPGA program is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the IPCEI on Microelectronics project, Cologne Chip said. The value of the support received was not disclosed.

At the end of 2018 the European Commission approved a microelectronics research plan – tendered jointly by France, Germany, Italy and Germany – as an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for microelectronics that allowed public authorities to provide up to €1.75 billion (about $2 billion) to support research and innovation (see Europe approves state-aid for electronics worth €1.75 billion).

In essence, the European Commission’s approval provides some sort of cover – as yet untested – against accusations that the state aid constitutes a subsidy that is illegal under World Trade Organization rules. At the same time Cologne Chip makes the point that, in an era of increasing trade friction, the European manufacturing of the GateMate FPGAs means that European customers will not see price hikes due to import tariffs or restricted supply due to trade restrictions.

Some 14 months after approval of the IPCEI was announced the FPGAs provide good PPA (performance, power, area) trade off so that high-speed applications are possible at low power consumption. Cologne Chip claims the logic capacity, power consumption, package size and PCB compatibility are best in class. For these reasons Cologne is predicting applications in industry, automation, communication, security, automotive, IoT and lighting.

Next: A family of six

Six FPGAs cover the range from 40,000 to more than a million LUT-4 equivalent cells. Prices start at $10 for the smallers CCGM1A1device in volume quantities. The low cost for these FPGAs also means that Cologne Chip is predicting these chips are well-suited to university projects; another aspect of the continental independence that they support.

The FPGA family uses a novel configurable logic unit known as the Cologne Programmable Element (CPE). Each CPE consists of a look-up-table (LUT) tree with 2 by 4-inputs. Each CPE configurable as 2-bit full-adder or 2×2 multiplier providing fine-grained support for reduced-resolution applications in such areas as artificial intelligence and machine learning. There is fast configuration from off-chip using a 4bit SPI interface operating at clock frequency of up to 100MHz.

The core logic can operate at 0.9, 1.0 V, 1.1 V depending on which of three modes the FPGA is set to – low power, economy or speed. Multiple clocking schemes are supported. The FPGAs support arbitrary sized multipliers and memory-aware applications can use block RAMs with bit widths of 1 to 80 bits. General Purpose IOs (GPIOs) can use different voltage levels from 1.2 to 2.5V GPIOs can be configured as single-ended or LVDS differential and a 2.5Gbit/s SERDES interface is available.

GateMate FPGAs are supported by EasyConvert software that enables the transfer of existing FPGA designs without re-synthesis. Place and route software maps ports the design into GateMate FPGA and a static timing analyser provides critical-path information. The design can be simulated using Verilog netlist and SDF timing extraction.

Next: Buy European, minimize risk

“I am particularly pleased that we were able to carry out this successful product development in cooperation with Globalfoundries,” said Michael Gude, CEO of Cologne Chip, in a statement. “Our customers benefit from the European-based production at Globalfoundries’ Fab 1 in Dresden. Thus, the risk of trade restrictions or high customs duties is minimized with GateMate FPGA.”

Thomas Morgenstern, general manager of Globalfoundries in Dresden, said: “GateMate FPGA is an excellent example of how innovative semiconductor solutions can be designed and manufactured in Europe. The combination of our low power 28SLP technology with our manufacturing strength in Dresden and the deep design know-how of the Cologne-based development team have resulted in a new FPGA family which will make a difference in the markets it is addressing.”

Related links and articles:

GateMate datasheet

News articles:

IPCEI fails to address European dithering

ST mulls building two 300mm fabs under IPCEI

Europe approves state-aid for electronics worth €1.75 billion

European Commission repeats call for “Airbus of chips”

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