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Intel Delivers a Game-Changing, Analog-Enabled Direct RF FPGA Portfolio

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Usually, people discussing “The Edge” are talking about the farthest reaches of a network, whether it’s the Internet, cellular telecommunications, cable television, or some other type of communications network. Large and small cloud data centers process data received from the edge, but often, distributed processing is required at the edge to enable low-latency, real-time processing. Intel has created a new portfolio of analog-enabled Intel® Direct RF FPGAs that can perform direct analog RF signal conversion for multiple analog input and output channels at groundbreaking rates in a variety of topologies supporting up to 16 channels and various configurations with channel rates as fast as 64 Gsps. These new analog-enabled Direct RF FPGAs enable optimized edge solutions for many RF applications.

The programmable logic devices in this new Direct RF FPGA portfolio employ Intel’s embedded multi-die interconnect bridge (EMIB) and Advanced Interconnect Bus (AIB) tile (chiplet) interconnect technology to combine RF-capable analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and digital-to-analog-converters (DACs) with Intel® Stratix® 10 FPGA and Intel® Agilex™ FPGA die. EMIB and AIB packaging technologies currently provide the lowest possible latency and power consumption when converting between the analog and digital domains.

The combination of EMIB and AIB technologies enables the design of composable solutions that deliver high performance and low operating power that far outperform systems built with conventional monolithic IC technology in discrete chip packages. EMIB and AIB also allow Intel to offer a comprehensive portfolio of packaged, integrated direct RF conversion products that bridge the analog RF and digital domains better than earlier RF technologies, simultaneously improving figures of merit along all three SWaP (size, weight, and power) dimensions.

The Intel Direct RF FPGA portfolio includes members of the Intel Agilex FPGA and Intel Stratix 10 FPGA families. These families deliver a game-changing combination of performance per watt and performance per area while providing system developers with great design flexibility. These solutions combine several important Intel innovations in multiple areas of semiconductor technology leadership and deliver significant value to end-product development at the edge. Further, these devices have relatively small form factors that fit into RF edge applications where such capabilities were simply not possible, thereby, giving edge equipment a much-needed upgrade to access more data than ever before.

The new devices in this portfolio of Intel Direct RF FPGA devices now extend the I/O capabilities of Intel Agilex and Intel Stratix 10 FPGAs to the analog domain using ADC and DAC chiplets that have been co-developed with partners and then composed into packaged devices using Intel’s EMIB and AIB technologies. These RF ADC and DAC chiplets have sample rates as fast as 64 Gsps. Chiplet-based design and the heterogeneous manufacturing approach to developing Direct RF FPGAs allow Intel to quickly address a broad array of analog signal processing applications in the RF frequency domain.

A brief list of direct RF front-end advantages made possible by the new Intel Direct RF portfolio includes:

  • Direct RF architectures deliver increased performance
  • Direct RF architectures deliver many SWaP advantages so applications with ambitious size, weight, and power requirements may benefit the most from these devices
  • Platforms with long lifespans (as many as 30 to 50 years for some military designs) need solutions that fit within existing size and power infrastructure constraints during the platform’s entire lifespan.
  • Direct RF solutions allow engineers to create systems that were once considered impossible to implement
  • Solutions with lower power requirements can leverage Intel’s full logic continuum, substituting an Intel® eASIC™ structured ASICs or a custom ASIC for the Intel® FPGA die in a packaged design
  • Intel’s Direct RF implementation architecture provides the lowest latency between the analog domain and the network.

As the only semiconductor vendor to offer FPGAs, structured ASICs, and ASICs, Intel is uniquely positioned to provide a range of solutions for teams developing high-performance RF-band equipment. Years of experience with advanced packaging technologies, including EMIB and AIB, and a resilient supply chain bolster Intel’s trusted leadership position.

Further, Intel is continuing to work with leading makers of cutting-edge data converters to develop ADC and DAC tiles that are compatible with Intel’s EMIB, AIB, and multichip packaging technologies. The new Direct RF FPGA portfolio provides concrete evidence that these technologies are ready and able to tackle the toughest problems on the analog or digital edge.


For more information about the new Direct RF FPGA portfolio, visit intel.com/directrf.