Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

To strengthen the leadership of the Nexus family of products, Lattice has launched four products based on the Nexus technology platform in the past 18 months, including CrossLink-NX for embedded video applications, and Certus-NX, a redefined general-purpose FPGA. , second-generation secure FPGA Mach-NX, advanced general-purpose FPGA CertusPro-NX, and two new products that are also expected to be launched in 2022 based on the FD-SOI platform.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

The Nexus platform represents the most significant update to low-power FPGA technology in nearly a decade. As the latest member of the Nexus family, CertusPro-NX is mainly launched to meet the needs of innovative applications such as data co-processing in intelligent systems, high-bandwidth signal bridging in 5G communication infrastructure, and sensor interface bridging in ADAS systems. It has been further improved in terms of power consumption design, system bandwidth, edge processing, reliability, and packaging diversity.

The reason for choosing such a design idea is that from the current industry development trend, the intelligence of network edge devices is greatly improving. On the one hand, they require higher interface bandwidth to facilitate rapid data transmission, and on the other hand More small form factor system integration and low-power solutions for optimized thermal management.

  The Condition of “New Benchmark”

Compared with competing products, the biggest feature of CertusPro-NX is that it is optimized for network edge processing. It not only has industry-leading energy efficiency and reliability, but also provides the industry’s best system in an ultra-small package size. bandwidth, and is the only FPGA product of its kind that supports LPDDR4 external memory.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

By leveraging Lattice’s innovations in FPGA architecture and 28nm low-power FD-SOI manufacturing process, CertusPro-NX devices consume four times less power than competing FPGAs. By changing the bias voltage of the substrate, developers can freely choose to operate in high-performance (HP) or low-power (LP) mode.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

But power consumption isn’t the only advantage of the Nexus platform. A Nexus family of devices like the CertusPro-NX typically outperforms similar competitors in other areas, including data processing performance, system bandwidth, storage density and support for small device size.

CertusPro-NX FPGA supports up to 8 programmable SERDES channels at speeds up to 10.3Gbps, provides the highest system bandwidth in its class (more than twice that of competing FPGAs), and supports mainstream communication and Display interfaces such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet, PCI Express, SLVS-EC, CoaXPress and DisplayPort.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

At the same time, in order to meet the requirements of stable data co-processing for AI and machine learning applications at the network edge, CertusPro-NX FPGA supports up to 100K logic cells, which is the device with the highest logic density among all Nexus-based FPGAs, and its on-chip memory capacity is also It is about 65% higher than other FPGAs in the same class, and it is currently the only low-power FPGA that supports the LPDDR4 DRAM storage standard. In addition, CertusPro-NX adds ultra-efficient DSP blocks to the programmable architecture, as well as small and large internal memory blocks to support low-latency data processing in artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

The design area of ​​CertusPro-NX FPGA is only 81mm2, which is 6.5 times smaller than that of competing devices. For example, the size area of ​​Xilinx Artix-7 100K LC with the same logic unit is 529mm2, which is 6.5 times that of CertusPro-NX; and the size area is 121mm2 The Intel Cyclone V GT 77K LC has only 77K logic cells. Such a small form factor is a key design consideration for developers using SFP modules in industrial cameras or communication systems.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

In addition, considering that critical applications in automotive, industrial and communications must have high reliability, enable predictable performance and ensure user safety, Lattice has improved the soft error immunity of CertusPro-NX devices by a factor of 100 and can Operates normally over a junction temperature range of -40°C to 125°C. This means that CertusPro-NX FPGAs can bring extreme reliability to next-generation communications, embedded, industrial and automotive applications at a reasonable commercial cost, helping systems stay online at all times and keeping end users safe.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

The new FPGA products include two models, CPNX-50K and CPNX-100K, with 52K and 96K logic units respectively. The traditional EBR (embedded memory) and large RAM reach 3.7Mb and 3.6Mb respectively. The 18×18 DSP and The number of PLLs can be up to 156 or 4, and supports 10GE PCS, PCIe Gen 3, SGMII CDR, ADC and other hard core modules.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

Meanwhile, the latest version of the easy-to-use Lattice Radiant design software is now available. In addition to supporting CertusPro-NX FPGAs, Radiant 3.0 optimizes signal traceability throughout the design flow, making it easier for developers to trace verification signals between HDL source code and RTL views as well as technical views. The new version allows users to choose between the Lattice Synthesis Engine (LSE) and the Synplify Pro synthesis engine, increasing design flexibility. In Radiant 3.0, timing analysis is separate from other operations, so timing analysis can be run independently. Designers can explore different “what-if” scenarios in their designs without having to re-run mapping and place-and-route, which greatly speeds up the iterative design process.

  Breaking new ground for mainstream FPGAs

The CertusPro-NX FPGA will be mass-produced and shipped in the second quarter of 2022. The first device is the CPNX-100K. As of now, customer samples and early access software have been released. Combined with a series of solutions from Lattice sensAI, mVision, and Automate, CertusPro-NX will be widely used in network edge AI, embedded vision systems and automated factory construction.

  l Machine vision and AI at the network edge

In addition to expanding the programmable logic architecture of CertusPro-NX, Lattice has also enhanced the platform’s AI capabilities. With 7.3 Mb of internal memory, customers can load lightweight neural networks to identify objects, listen for keywords or detect abnormal behavior. However hardware is only one aspect of the design. The Lattice sensAI software collection works with frameworks such as Caffe, TensorFlow, TensorFlow Lite, and Keras, and is supported by the Lattice AI Compiler. This collection of proven solutions provides many Lattice customers with AI applications that are fully optimized for power consumption and resource efficiency. The software platform is compatible with many of the company’s FPGAs (compatibility with CertusPro-NX is planned for later this year).

Machine vision applications at the network edge require not only hardware to implement neural networks, but also functions such as sensor compatibility, sensor aggregation, and image preprocessing. In this regard, Lattice offers CertusPro-NX customers sufficient flexibility through programmable I/O and SERDES modules. For example, many high-definition image sensors employ the SLVS-EC interface, which is missing from many AI accelerators at the network edge; programmable SERDES also support a variety of standards for transporting data from the network edge into the system, including CoaXPress and 10G Ethernet.

Because DRAM operations increase power consumption and reduce throughput, neural networks can perform optimally if all weights are stored on-chip, with minimal DRAM accesses. Therefore, customers want to have larger on-chip memory. Lattice’s new FPGA can store up to 1 million 8-bit weights – nearly twice as many as the Cyclone V GT or Artix-7. Because more weights can be stored inside the chip, the CertusPro-NX can run larger AI models without accessing DRAM, reducing power consumption.

If CertusPro-NX does need to access DRAM it uses programmable I/O modules, which support LPDDR4 and DDR3 memory at speeds up to 1066Mbps. Frankly speaking, supporting LPDDR4 will increase the power consumption of the chip and system, but because CertusPro-NX has larger on-chip memory and optimized memory controller, it can achieve lower memory access time by using on-chip and external memory, reducing memory access time. power consumption, thus alleviating this concern.

  lIndustrial Internet of Things

The latest generation of the Industrial Internet of Things is characterized by large-scale automation, thanks to advances in interconnectivity and data analytics. To automate tasks such as sorting and packaging, smart factories require thousands of IoT devices that collectively generate and process terabytes of data every day. The chips that drive these devices must be small in size, low in power consumption, and high in reliability. To fully prepare customers for Industry 4.0, Lattice has adopted the above principles in its latest generation of FPGAs.

Compared with competing FPGAs based on the 28nm Bulk CMOS process, the CertusPro-NX manufactured using the FD-SOI process can reduce leakage current by up to 75%, and leakage current is the main cause of static power consumption and standby power consumption. For a design that requires 65K logic cells, uses 75% DSP and memory resources, runs two 5Gbps SERDES channels, and runs at 85°C junction temperature and 125MHz frequency, the total power consumption (dynamic + static) of CertusPro-NX is higher than that of Artix -7 75% less and 65% less than Cyclone V GT.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

Lattice FPGAs consume 65-75% less power compared to comparable FPGAs from Intel and Xilinx (Source: Lattice)

Thanks to this, CertusPro-NX has more space for low power consumption and heat dissipation, thereby helping OEM manufacturers to reduce system size and reduce heat dissipation management costs. For example, during operation of an industrial motor, heat can build up in the motor and increase the ambient temperature around the FPGA. Compared to competing products, Lattice’s low-power solutions allow the FPGA to control higher torque motors without overheating.

Compared to Artix-7, CertusPro-NX reduces the number of soft errors by 99%, 110 times the mean time between failures (MTBF), and eliminates the need for soft error detection logic and error correction code, all from FD -Automotive, medical, industrial robotics and other industries will benefit greatly from the additional advantage of eliminating single event upset (SEU) errors that SOI has.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

  l5G application

In 5G applications, considering factors such as the small space of 5G base stations, the large amount of data flow, and the 70% higher power consumption than 4G base stations, base station OEMs often need FPGAs to help enhance processors or ASIC chips, because the former has higher efficiency .

CertusPro-NX is the smallest chip product of its kind with SERDES function, and its power consumption is lower than that of Artix-7 and Cyclone V GT, which can simplify the thermal management of base stations, and is very suitable for small size design, and the data rate is not limited. As shown in the figure, the 75Gbps SERDES bandwidth of CertusPro-NX is 36% higher than that of Artix-7 and more than 2 times that of Cyclone V GT. For high bandwidth functions such as packet management, CertusPro-NX can provide higher throughput, area and efficiency.

Setting the industry “new benchmark” for low-power, high-performance general-purpose FPGAs

The total SERDES bandwidth of CertusPro-NX exceeds that of competing products by as much as 2 times, and it has a significant advantage in data-intensive operations. (Data source: Lattice)


CertusPro-NX is Lattice’s new injection of energy into the “mainstream FPGA” market. Over the years, there has been less investment in this important area, and major competitors haven’t even released any new low-cost architecture products in the past decade, so CertusPro-NX has the opportunity to consolidate it with new technologies such as PCIe Gen3 and LPDDR4. The market position of the latest product series to better serve emerging markets such as 5G base stations, industrial IoT and machine vision.

Author: Yoyokuo