Startup Flex Logix Aims to Make Chips More Programmable
Flex Logix is unveiling its EFLX FPGA technology, which leverages a network that is unlike the mesh networks used in most other FPGAs on the market. The hierarchical network design makes the EFLX more efficient and faster in moving data by reducing the length of communications links between logic blocks, which helps speed up software performance while improving energy efficiency, Tate said. It also cuts in half the area needed for the interconnects and reduces the number of metal layers, which enables the EFLX cores to be integrated into other devices. In the FPGA world, the devices are measured by LUTs, or lookup tables, which are collections of programmable circuits that can be linked together. Flex Logix is using a basic design that offers 100 LUTs and another with 2,500 LUTs, with a 10,400 LUT model on the way. In addition, those units can be layered to create more configurations with more processing power up to 122,500 LUTs, Tate said. Flex Logix is aiming the technology at a broad array of areas, from networking vendors to wireless network providers to search engine environments, all of which need to address demands for faster services, greater flexibility and rapid upgrades. There also is the cost factor: a 2,500-LUT EFLX will add only 15 cents to the cost of an SoC; a 100-LUT EFLX will add less than a cent. The company is now offering its 2,500-LUT core design to manufacturers. The technology is being built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp.'s 28-nanometer process. Tate wouldn't discuss customers, but said the company has seen a lot of interest in the technology."For him to come out of retirement to run this shows his belief that this could be a big thing," Kay told eWEEK. The technology makes sense, he said. Devices coming on the market today rely on a lot of chips to get the level of performance they offer. Being able to reduce the number of chips used while still getting the performance and flexibility needed would be a win for device and system makers.
Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, isn't surprised. He said Flex Logix is offering an interesting technology that fits in with "an industry that is going in this direction." Kay also noted that Tate didn't need the money or the hassles that come with getting a startup running.