Intel Agilex: The FPGA for Wide Ranges of Applications

In a world where niching down or focusing on a particular market is the goal, it is interesting to see some products going the other way. When it comes to the consumer electronics market, one core integration is the introduction of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). These are dedicated devices used to solve some of the integration, scalability and re-optimization challenges associated with consumer electronics.

However, one thing stands out in all these – FPGAs are to be used for specific applications. We have FPGAs targeting the automotive industry and others targeting the medical industry. It is therefore on that premise that the Intel Agilex FPGAs are designed to cater to the needs of different industries.

Manufactured by Intel, the Intel Agilex FPGAs are “versatile Field Programmable Gate Arrays” designed to be used with different kinds of applications.

Why the Versatility?

In addition to the need to offer FPGAs for different mainstream applications and industry usages, the Intel Agilex FPGAs were also designed to improve the manufacturing capabilities in those industries.

The Intel Agilex FPGAs are versatile because of the wide range of peripherals. Below is a breakdown of some of these peripherals:

  • Compute Express Link (CXL)
  • Intel 7 Technology (for the M-Series of Intel FPGAs)
  • 10 nanometers (nms) SuperFin technology (used with the Intel F-Series and Intel I-Series FPGAs)
  • Integrated ARM-based processors
  • PCI Express (PCIe) 5.0
  • Second-generation Intel Hyperflex FPGA Architecture
  • Up to 116 Gigabytes per second (Gbps) transceivers

The Major Improvements to the Intel Agilex FPGAs

No doubt, Intel Agilex FPGAs have some remarkable features that set them apart from the other FPGAs in the market.

However, these features couldn’t have been deployed if there weren’t any improvements in that regard. The following are some of the key innovations to the Intel Agilex FPGA fabric:

1. Floating Point Enhancement

Intel noted that the Intel Agilex FPGAs are the first set of FPGAs to “support hardened half-precision Floating Point (FP16), and the BFLOAT16.”

This floating point enablement provides the devices with up to 38 Tera Floating Point Operations Per Second (TFLOPS). Of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) performance (FP16).

This combination paves the way for the Intel Agilex FPGAs to achieve higher performance/watt for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other compute-intensive functions.

2. CXL-Enabled Scalability

Scalability being at the core of FPGA’s functions influenced the inclusion of the Compute Express Link (CXL) into the Intel Agilex FPGAs.

That, in turn, makes these the first set of FPGAs to feature the “cache-and-memory-interconnect to Intel Xeon processors.”

The outcome? The Intel Agilex FPGAs can achieve low-latency, the highest speed levels, while offering an efficient performance between the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and the Central Processing Unit (CPU).

3. Improved FPGA Performance

If you are looking for an FPGA that offers improved performance, you should consider getting any of the Intel Agilex FPGAs. These devices are “manufactured using advanced Intel technologies and processes.”

It is worthy of note that the Intel Agilex FPGAs leverage the “advanced Intel process technologies (Intel 10 nm SuperFin and Intel 7).

The combined functions of those process technologies help the Intel Agilex FPGAs to compete favorably with the Intel 7 nm FPGAs via the 2x increased FPGA fabric performance, as well as the “supply chain resiliency.”

4. Design Optimization

Without taking the same design path as the previous FPGAs, the Intel Agilex FPGAs have been designed to improve the fabric. It does that courtesy of the basis on the second-generation Intel Hyperflex FPGA Architecture.

Worthy of mentioning is that the architecture helps the Intel Agilex FPGAs to “enable a significant design optimization.” This optimization makes the FPGAs capable of delivering up to 50% higher performance and reduce the power usage by up to 40% – than the previous FPGAs.

5. Data Throughput

There are two (2) major data throughput processes to the Intel Agilex FPGAs. The first is obtained from the increased transceiver data rates of up to 116 Gigabytes per second (Gbps). It also supports the optimization of the transceiver data rates for the “data-intensive applications and hardened media access control.”

The increased transceiver data rates offered above is also a reason why the Intel Agilex FPGAs can support the Forward Error Correction (FEC0, of up to 400 Gbps Ethernet (GbE) for networking applications, as well as Physical Coding Sublayer (PCS).

On the other hand, the Intel Agilex FPGAs are capable of achieving the highest data throughputs because of the “hardened PCIe PCI Express (PCIe) 5.0 support). It is through this data rate support that the devices potentially provide the PCIe 5.0 x16 support, as well as enabling up to 2x fabric throughput.”

Optimized for Market Demands

Since it supports a wide range of applications or meets the needs of different applications, it is also expected that the Intel Agilex FPGAs will be optimized accordingly.

The core function is to “process, move and store data” in the target applications. To that end, the Intel Agilex FPGAs supports the combination of different components, such as the Intel eSAIC devices, purpose-built chiplets, custom computing and transceivers. It also combines optimized Input and Output (I/O), processor interfaces and a variety of custom solutions to create a fully-functional and well-optimized FPGA for the target applications.

We also point out here that the Intel Agilex FPGAs also makes the devices agile and scalable, as these are core factors for driving the transfer and management of data in the target applications.

The core markets served are:

  • Data center
  • Edge computing and;
  • Networking

Varieties of Intel Agilex FPGAs

Due to the broadened applications or target markets, Intel Agilex FPGAs have been sub-divided, based on the respective uses.

At the core is the Intel Agilex F-Series FPGA and SoC FPGA, which are built upon the 10 nm SuperFin process technology and optimized for general-purpose uses. These FPGAs also prioritize massive market usage, with a particular concentration on the wireless, edge computing and data center markets.

Intel Agilex I-Series

This is a series of the Intel Agilex FPGAs, optimized for bandwidth-intensive applications. These FPGAs meet that demand via the use of the highest-performing I/O interfaces.

Intel Agilex D-Series

These Intel FPGA series offer improved performance. Based on the robust Intel 7 process technology, the Intel Agilex D-Series delivers up to 2x performance-per-watt.

Conclusion

The broad FPGAs categories of Intel Agilex are offered to deliver the highest levels of performances, increase the target markets or applications and foster interconnections among the FPGA components.