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Microsoft's FPGA Translates Wikipedia in less than a Tenth of a Second

Started by rickman October 16, 2016
I found this pretty impressive.  I wonder if this is why Intel bought 
Altera or if they are not working together on this?  Ulpp!  Seak and yea 
shall find....

"Microsoft is using so many FPGA the company has a direct influence over 
the global FPGA supply and demand. Intel executive vice president, Diane 
Bryant, has already stated that Microsoft is the main reason behind 
Intel's decision to acquire FPGA-maker, Altera."

#Microsoft's #FPGA Translates #Wikipedia in less than a Tenth of a 
Second http://hubs.ly/H04JLSp0

I guess this will only steer the FPGA market more in the direction of 
larger and faster rather than giving us much at the low end of energy 
efficient and small FPGAs.  That's where I like to live.

-- 

Rick C
On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman <gnuarm@gmail.com> wrote:

>I found this pretty impressive. I wonder if this is why Intel bought >Altera or if they are not working together on this? Ulpp! Seak and yea >shall find.... > >"Microsoft is using so many FPGA the company has a direct influence over >the global FPGA supply and demand. Intel executive vice president, Diane >Bryant, has already stated that Microsoft is the main reason behind >Intel's decision to acquire FPGA-maker, Altera." > >#Microsoft's #FPGA Translates #Wikipedia in less than a Tenth of a >Second http://hubs.ly/H04JLSp0 > >I guess this will only steer the FPGA market more in the direction of >larger and faster rather than giving us much at the low end of energy >efficient and small FPGAs. That's where I like to live.
No, it may mean that Altera won't play there but someone surely will.
On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman wrote:

> I found this pretty impressive. I wonder if this is why Intel bought > Altera or if they are not working together on this? Ulpp! Seak and yea > shall find.... > > "Microsoft is using so many FPGA the company has a direct influence over > the global FPGA supply and demand. Intel executive vice president, Diane > Bryant, has already stated that Microsoft is the main reason behind > Intel's decision to acquire FPGA-maker, Altera." > > #Microsoft's #FPGA Translates #Wikipedia in less than a Tenth of a > Second http://hubs.ly/H04JLSp0 > > I guess this will only steer the FPGA market more in the direction of > larger and faster rather than giving us much at the low end of energy > efficient and small FPGAs. That's where I like to live.
Hopefully it'll create a vacuum into which other companies will grow. Very possibly not without some pain in the interim. Markets change, we have to adapt. -- www.wescottdesign.com
On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman <gnuarm@gmail.com> wrote:

>I found this pretty impressive.
Translates it where? Across the room? To what? Rot13? -- John
On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 22:00:13 -0500, quiasmox@yahoo.com wrote:

>On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman <gnuarm@gmail.com> wrote: > >>I found this pretty impressive. > >Translates it where? Across the room? >To what? Rot13?
That's what I wanted to know. The article doesn't say. Seems pretty useless like a lot of media blurbs about things the editors know nothing about. boB
On 10/16/2016 8:55 PM, Tim Wescott wrote:
> On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman wrote: > >> I found this pretty impressive. I wonder if this is why Intel bought >> Altera or if they are not working together on this? Ulpp! Seak and yea >> shall find.... >> >> "Microsoft is using so many FPGA the company has a direct influence over >> the global FPGA supply and demand. Intel executive vice president, Diane >> Bryant, has already stated that Microsoft is the main reason behind >> Intel's decision to acquire FPGA-maker, Altera." >> >> #Microsoft's #FPGA Translates #Wikipedia in less than a Tenth of a >> Second http://hubs.ly/H04JLSp0 >> >> I guess this will only steer the FPGA market more in the direction of >> larger and faster rather than giving us much at the low end of energy >> efficient and small FPGAs. That's where I like to live. > > Hopefully it'll create a vacuum into which other companies will grow. > Very possibly not without some pain in the interim. Markets change, we > have to adapt.
I've never been clear on the fundamental forces in the FPGA business. The major FPGA companies have operated very similarly catering to the telecom markets while giving pretty much lip service to the rest of the electronics world. I suppose there is a difference in technology requirements between MCUs and FPGAs. MCUs often are not even near the bleeding edge of process technology while FPGAs seem to drive it to some extent. Other than Intel who seems to always be the first to bring chips out at a given process node, the FPGA companies are a close second. But again, I think that is driven by their serving the telecom market where density is king. So I don't see any fundamental reasons why FPGAs can't be built on older processes to keep price down. If MCUs can be made in a million combinations of RAM, Flash and peripherals, why can't FPGAs? Even analog is used in MCUs, why can't FPGAs be made with the same processes giving us programmable logic combined with a variety of ADC, DAC and comparators on the same die. Put them in smaller packages (lower pin counts, not the micro pitch BGAs) and let them to be used like MCUs. Maybe the market just isn't there. Many seem to feel FPGAs are much harder to work with than MCUs. To me they are much simpler. -- Rick C
On 10/16/2016 11:00 PM, quiasmox@yahoo.com wrote:
> On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman <gnuarm@gmail.com> wrote: > >> I found this pretty impressive. > > Translates it where? Across the room? > To what? Rot13?
Did you read the article? They are designing Internet servers that will operate much faster and at lower power levels. I believe a translation app is being used as a benchmark. It's not like websites are never translated. -- Rick C
On 17/10/16 09:56, rickman wrote:
> On 10/16/2016 8:55 PM, Tim Wescott wrote: >> On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman wrote: >> >>> I found this pretty impressive. I wonder if this is why Intel bought >>> Altera or if they are not working together on this? Ulpp! Seak and yea >>> shall find.... >>> >>> "Microsoft is using so many FPGA the company has a direct influence over >>> the global FPGA supply and demand. Intel executive vice president, Diane >>> Bryant, has already stated that Microsoft is the main reason behind >>> Intel's decision to acquire FPGA-maker, Altera." >>> >>> #Microsoft's #FPGA Translates #Wikipedia in less than a Tenth of a >>> Second http://hubs.ly/H04JLSp0 >>> >>> I guess this will only steer the FPGA market more in the direction of >>> larger and faster rather than giving us much at the low end of energy >>> efficient and small FPGAs. That's where I like to live. >> >> Hopefully it'll create a vacuum into which other companies will grow. >> Very possibly not without some pain in the interim. Markets change, we >> have to adapt. > > I've never been clear on the fundamental forces in the FPGA business. > The major FPGA companies have operated very similarly catering to the > telecom markets while giving pretty much lip service to the rest of the > electronics world. > > I suppose there is a difference in technology requirements between MCUs > and FPGAs. MCUs often are not even near the bleeding edge of process > technology while FPGAs seem to drive it to some extent. Other than > Intel who seems to always be the first to bring chips out at a given > process node, the FPGA companies are a close second. But again, I think > that is driven by their serving the telecom market where density is king. > > So I don't see any fundamental reasons why FPGAs can't be built on older > processes to keep price down. If MCUs can be made in a million > combinations of RAM, Flash and peripherals, why can't FPGAs? Even > analog is used in MCUs, why can't FPGAs be made with the same processes > giving us programmable logic combined with a variety of ADC, DAC and > comparators on the same die. Put them in smaller packages (lower pin > counts, not the micro pitch BGAs) and let them to be used like MCUs.
As far as I understand it, there is quite a variation in the types of processes used - it's not just about the feature size. The number of layers, the types of layers, the types of doping, the fault tolerance, etc., all play a part in what fits well on the same die. So you might easily find that if you put an ADC on a die setup that was good for FPGA fabric, then the ADC would be a lot worse (speed, accuracy, power consumption, noise, cost) than usual. Alternatively, your die setup could be good for the ADC - and then it would give a poor quality FPGA part. Microcontrollers are made with a compromise. The cpu part is not as fast or efficient as a pure cpu could be, nor is the flash part, nor the analogue parts. But they are all good enough that the combination is a saving (in dollars and watts, as well as mm&sup2;) overall. But I think there are some FPGA's with basic analogue parts, and certainly with flash. There are also microcontrollers with some programmable logic (more CPLD-type logic than FPGA). Maybe we will see more "compromise" parts in the future, but I doubt if we will see good analogue bits and good FPGA bits on the same die. What will, I think, make more of a difference is multi-die packaging - either as side-by-side dies or horizontally layered dies. But I expect that to be more on the high-end first (like FPGA die combined with big ram blocks).
> > Maybe the market just isn't there. Many seem to feel FPGAs are much > harder to work with than MCUs. To me they are much simpler. >
I think that is habit and familiarity - there is a lot of difference to the mindset for FPGA programming and MCU programming. I don't think you can say that one type of development is fundamentally harder or easier than the other, but the simple fact is that a great deal more people are familiar with programming serial execution devices than with developing for programmable logic.
On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 19:55:13 -0500, Tim Wescott
<tim@seemywebsite.really> wrote:

>On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman wrote: > >> I found this pretty impressive. I wonder if this is why Intel bought >> Altera or if they are not working together on this? Ulpp! Seak and yea >> shall find.... >> >> "Microsoft is using so many FPGA the company has a direct influence over >> the global FPGA supply and demand. Intel executive vice president, Diane >> Bryant, has already stated that Microsoft is the main reason behind >> Intel's decision to acquire FPGA-maker, Altera." >> >> #Microsoft's #FPGA Translates #Wikipedia in less than a Tenth of a >> Second http://hubs.ly/H04JLSp0 >> >> I guess this will only steer the FPGA market more in the direction of >> larger and faster rather than giving us much at the low end of energy >> efficient and small FPGAs. That's where I like to live. > >Hopefully it'll create a vacuum into which other companies will grow. >Very possibly not without some pain in the interim. Markets change, we >have to adapt.
The interim pain includes an almost total absence of tech support for the smaller users. The biggies get a team of full-time, on-site support people; small users can't get any support from the principals, and maybe a little mediocre support from distributors. That trend is almost universal, but it's worst with FPGAs, where the tools are enormously complex and correspondingly buggy. Got a problem? Post it on a forum. -- John Larkin Highland Technology, Inc lunatic fringe electronics
On 10/17/2016 6:25 AM, David Brown wrote:
> On 17/10/16 09:56, rickman wrote: >> On 10/16/2016 8:55 PM, Tim Wescott wrote: >>> On Sun, 16 Oct 2016 20:22:29 -0400, rickman wrote: >>> >>>> I found this pretty impressive. I wonder if this is why Intel bought >>>> Altera or if they are not working together on this? Ulpp! Seak and yea >>>> shall find.... >>>> >>>> "Microsoft is using so many FPGA the company has a direct influence over >>>> the global FPGA supply and demand. Intel executive vice president, Diane >>>> Bryant, has already stated that Microsoft is the main reason behind >>>> Intel's decision to acquire FPGA-maker, Altera." >>>> >>>> #Microsoft's #FPGA Translates #Wikipedia in less than a Tenth of a >>>> Second http://hubs.ly/H04JLSp0 >>>> >>>> I guess this will only steer the FPGA market more in the direction of >>>> larger and faster rather than giving us much at the low end of energy >>>> efficient and small FPGAs. That's where I like to live. >>> >>> Hopefully it'll create a vacuum into which other companies will grow. >>> Very possibly not without some pain in the interim. Markets change, we >>> have to adapt. >> >> I've never been clear on the fundamental forces in the FPGA business. >> The major FPGA companies have operated very similarly catering to the >> telecom markets while giving pretty much lip service to the rest of the >> electronics world. >> >> I suppose there is a difference in technology requirements between MCUs >> and FPGAs. MCUs often are not even near the bleeding edge of process >> technology while FPGAs seem to drive it to some extent. Other than >> Intel who seems to always be the first to bring chips out at a given >> process node, the FPGA companies are a close second. But again, I think >> that is driven by their serving the telecom market where density is king. >> >> So I don't see any fundamental reasons why FPGAs can't be built on older >> processes to keep price down. If MCUs can be made in a million >> combinations of RAM, Flash and peripherals, why can't FPGAs? Even >> analog is used in MCUs, why can't FPGAs be made with the same processes >> giving us programmable logic combined with a variety of ADC, DAC and >> comparators on the same die. Put them in smaller packages (lower pin >> counts, not the micro pitch BGAs) and let them to be used like MCUs. > > As far as I understand it, there is quite a variation in the types of > processes used - it's not just about the feature size. The number of > layers, the types of layers, the types of doping, the fault tolerance, > etc., all play a part in what fits well on the same die. So you might > easily find that if you put an ADC on a die setup that was good for FPGA > fabric, then the ADC would be a lot worse (speed, accuracy, power > consumption, noise, cost) than usual. Alternatively, your die setup > could be good for the ADC - and then it would give a poor quality FPGA part.
What's a "poor" FPGA? MCUs have digital and usually as fast as possible digital. They also want the lowest possible power consumption. What part of that is bad for an FPGA? Forget the analog. What do you sacrifice by building FPGAs on a line that works well for CPUs with Flash and RAM? If you can also build decent analog with that you get an MCU/FPGA/Analog device that is no worse than current MCUs.
> Microcontrollers are made with a compromise. The cpu part is not as > fast or efficient as a pure cpu could be, nor is the flash part, nor the > analogue parts. But they are all good enough that the combination is a > saving (in dollars and watts, as well as mm&sup2;) overall.
It's not much of a compromise. As you say, they are all good enough. I am sure an FPGA could be combined with little loss of what defines an FPGA.
> But I think there are some FPGA's with basic analogue parts, and > certainly with flash. There are also microcontrollers with some > programmable logic (more CPLD-type logic than FPGA). Maybe we will see > more "compromise" parts in the future, but I doubt if we will see good > analogue bits and good FPGA bits on the same die.
I know of one (well one line) from Microsemi (formerly Actel), SmartFusion (not to be confused with SmartFusion2). They have a CM3 with SAR ADC and sigma-delta DAC, comparators, etc in addition to the FPGA. So clearly this is possible and it is really a marketing issue, not a technical one. The focus seems to be on the FPGA, but they do give a decent amount of Flash and RAM (up to 512 and 64 kB respectively). My main issue is the very large packages, all BGA except for the ginormous TQ144. I'd like to see 64 and 100 pin QFPs.
> What will, I think, make more of a difference is multi-die packaging - > either as side-by-side dies or horizontally layered dies. But I expect > that to be more on the high-end first (like FPGA die combined with big > ram blocks).
Very pointless not to mention costly. You lose a lot running the FPGA to MCU interface through I/O pads for some applications. That is how Intel combined FPGA with their x86 CPUs initially though. But it is a very pricey result.
>> Maybe the market just isn't there. Many seem to feel FPGAs are much >> harder to work with than MCUs. To me they are much simpler. >> > > I think that is habit and familiarity - there is a lot of difference to > the mindset for FPGA programming and MCU programming. I don't think you > can say that one type of development is fundamentally harder or easier > than the other, but the simple fact is that a great deal more people are > familiar with programming serial execution devices than with developing > for programmable logic.
The main difference between programming MCUs and FPGAs is you don't need to be concerned with the problems of virtual multitasking (sharing one processor between many tasks). Otherwise FPGAs are pretty durn simple to use really. For sure, some tasks fit well in an MCU. If you have the performance they can be done in an MCU, but that is not a reason why they can't be done in an FPGA just as easily. I know, many times I've taken an MCU algorithm and coded it into HDL. The hard part is understanding what the MCU code is doing. -- Rick C