MUNICH, Germany -- Field programmable gate array company Xilinx Inc. is exploring the possibilities of including relatively complex analog functions as diffused circuits on its Virtex-II family of gate arrays, and has a particular analog cell in mind. However, the company said the circuit would likely be applied in a next-generation of its Virtex line of complex FPGAs and the company would therefore not announce the circuit until later.
The Virtex-II range of gate arrays includes a number of variants with diffused cores, rather than cores implemented in the FPGA, but these have tended to be digital circuits such as PowerPC 32-bit processor cores, patches of memory, or arrays of multiplier-accumulators in support of DSP applications.
"We have a lot of analog on our chips but it is mainly for own testing and monitoring requirements. We've not made it available to the customer," said Erich Goetting, vice president and general manager of the advanc ed products division at Xilinx.
Goetting pointed out that Xilinx already offers I/O cells on Virtex-II that can drive data off-chip at up to 3-Gbit/s, and which are in reality analog circuits crafted to achieve a digital outcome. He also pointed out that some transceiver serializer-deserializer [serdes] circuits are also mixed-signal circuits.
"In the future we will look at adding analog to our FPGAs. We'll certainly consider any circuit, but it has to meet our three criteria for any diffused additions; high value, low die area and broad application," said Goetting. "We've already looked at some circuits but the trouble with analog is that it tends to be very specialized and therefore not for broad application. So, for example Bluetooth has problems meeting all three criteria, with the possible exception of die area."
Goetting concluded: "There is something [an analog circuit] in prospect for our next generation." Goetting declined to comment on whether it would be a radio frequency circuit for wireless communications or a physical attach circuit for wired communications.