This is one we are a bit skeptical about, but here it is. The latest claim by Intel is that its new 10nm SuperFin Agilex FPGAs are twice as good as Xilinx Versal ACAPs. For those who are not into the FGPA space, Intel Agilex is the latest FPGA design from Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group based on its leading 10nm SuperFin process. Xilinx’s Versal lines are the company’s new FPGA’s but dubbed ACAP to reflect new acceleration IP. Xilinx Versal uses TSMC 7nm. Intel is making some fairly bold claims about its new parts. We have links to where you can learn more in this paragraph.
Intel Claims Agilex FPGAs are Twice as Good as Xilinx Versal
The brief notes are that the Intel Agilex FPGAs are built upon the 10nm SuperFin process which is a refined 10nm process and is shipping to customers. We previously covered that Intel Agilex Next-Gen FPGAs Shipping to Microsoft and Others.
We are going to get to that ~2x claim later. Intel has a new architecture for Agilex which includes items like its 116G transceivers. It is also showing off the eye diagram for its 224G PAM4 test chip.
A major feature for FPGAs is connectivity both in the on-chip Hyperflex FGPA fabric as well as the interconnects. Intel also has tiles for memory controllers, PCIe Gen5, CXL, as well as its ability to use eASIC to created hardened chiplets to connect to the FPGA via EMIB to increase efficiency.
Key features include DDR5, HBM, Optane memory support (we showed the Stratix version here), PCIe Gen5/ CXL, and 116G transceivers.
Here is the breakdown of the ~2x performance per watt advantage for Agilex over Versal.
On the performance side, Intel is highlighting a number of video performance aspects. Note that these are specifically video functions.
Here is another backup slide for its video and vision function performance/ efficiency.
Here is Intel’s example of getting 1.92x better performance per watt for 5G.
One can see the big delta is in the Fabric Dynamic category where intel has a much lower power draw.
I asked Patrick our Editor-in-Chief about this. A 2x improvement in power efficiency is a huge margin, especially on edge devices. He said he asked Deepali Trehan, who is a Vice President in Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group, about this. Specifically, he asked why anyone would buy a Xilinx Versal product if Intel Agilex offers 2x the performance per watt. The context was that Xilinx has a huge market share in FPGAs so one would expect Xilinx would be smaller if it offered half the performance per watt. We did not get a definitive answer, but we are a bit skeptical just based on the market share and scale of the delta. We will let our readers decide for themselves, but this seems to be a very narrow and specific claim that is being highlighted.