Xilinx’ latest offering is the biggest FPGA ever built, beating the company’s own world record. The Virtex Ultrascale+ VU19P, built on the 16nm process node, has the highest logic density and I/O count on a single device ever built: 9 million system logic cells and over 2,000 user I/Os.

The mammoth device also features up to 1.5 Tbps of DDR4 memory bandwidth and up to 4.5 Tbps of transceiver bandwidth.

Is there a market need for bigger and bigger FPGAs like this one?

Mike Thompson, Xilinx

Mike Thompson, Xilinx

“Yes, most definitely there is a need, especially for emulation and prototyping of next-gen ASICs and SoCs,” said Mike Thompson, Xilinx’ Senior Product Line Manager for the new series. “An increasing number of ASIC and SoC design starts, as well as test and measurement equipment for emerging standards, are driving the needs for very large FPGAs like the VU19P.”

According to Thompson, the development of wireless-focused SoCs is the main application for these huge programmable logic devices; hardware prototyping of such devices enables system software integration to start many months before silicon is available. An increasing number of ASIC and SoC design starts is being driven by verticals like AI, 5G, automotive and hyperscale SoCs. These types of devices are being shaped by evolving architectures, increased software content and a general rise in complexity.

The VU19P is 1.6X larger than its predecessor, the Virtex Ultrascale 440, built on the previous 20nm process node, which was the industry’s largest FPGA when it was released in 2015. That device had 5.5 million system logic cells.

Thompson credits the big jump in size to a combination of the company’s modular architecture, which helps scalability, and a new third generation of its stacked silicon interconnect technology, which allows smaller dice to be assembled together to create larger and larger parts without adversely affecting yield.

One of the biggest challenges of building such large devices is efficient cooling.

“The VU19P has a lidless, flip-chip package that allows customers’ heatsinks to make direct contact with silicon,” Thompson said. “This significantly increases the cooling system’s ability to dissipate heat.”

The VU19P will be generally available in the fall of 2020.

VU19P

The VU19P has a world-record 9 million system logic cells (Image: Xilinx)