AMD is reportedly acquiring FPGA design house Xilinx to boost its server and data center chip offerings.
After Intel bought Altera, the reports about AMD in talks to acquire Xilinx bring an end to the long reign of what many semiconductor industry watchers called the Coke and Pepsi era of the FPGA world. Is it about AI workloads in the data center? Or is it about Xilinx’s massive push into the automotive and 5G networking worlds?
Industry observers will debate the rationale behind the acquisition in the coming days, but it seems to be a no-brainer at the outset. AMD, Intel’s alter ego in the x86 processor realm, appears to be responding to Intel’s acquisition of Altera in 2015. While Altera’s purchase made Xilinx the king of the FPGA world, many wondered for how long? Now The Wall Street Journal reports that AMD is in talks with Xilinx for a whopping $30 billion acquisition deal.
Besides an apparent Intel redux, AMD has made inroads into the high-performance computing (HPC) markets like data centers. Here, Xilinx is uniquely positioned to complement AMD with highly-customizable FPGA solutions. Moreover, the deal is expected to provide AMD with leverage to compete with Nvidia in the graphics acceleration market.
Xilinx has recently launched the hugely-popular Alveo accelerator cards that facilitate HPC designs across several workloads. After Victor Peng took charge in 2018, Xilinx made a big foray into data acceleration workloads for data centers and other AI applications.
Xilinx CEO Victor Peng
That matches AMD’s goals in competing with Intel and Nvidia in server markets. Nevertheless, the tie-up between AMD and Xilinx brings to an end the 36-year long technology journey focused on programmable logic designs serving various markets.
In 1984, Ross Freeman and Bernard Vonderschmitt founded Xilinx to create more affordable programmable chips. That changed the semiconductor industry in many ways. Fast forward to 2020, while an FPGA pioneer folds itself into a chip giant’s operations, the innovation around highly-programmable solutions goes on.
But the technology hegemony of the Coke and Pepsi of the FPGA world is over.
This article was originally published on EDN.
Majeed Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of EDN, has covered the electronics design industry for more than two decades.