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An array of opportunity

Will the ‘David’ fpoa fell the ‘Goliath’ fgpa? By Graham Pitcher.

Despite its growing popularity, the programmable logic and fpga market is a tough place to do business. So it’s a brave company that throws its hat into that particular ring. But that’s what MathStar has done. Not only is it looking to get a toe hold in the market, it’s also looking to do so on the back of a completely different approach.
An indication of the scale of the problem comes from a quick look at the company’s history; it was founded in 1997. Since then, it has been developing what it calls field programmable object arrays, or fpoas. These devices are said to be capable of running at clock rates of up to 1GHz – at least twice the speed of current leading fpga architectures. Company president and ceo Doug Pihl claimed the approach represented the next generation of programmable logic. “But it offers a higher level of performance,” he continued.
So what is an fpoa? Essentially, it’s a collection of silicon objects in the form of arithmetic logic units (ALU), register files (RF) and multiply accumulators (MAC) that are linked using an interconnect fabric running at 1GHz.

Graham Pitcher

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