Xilinx unveils first ACAP product for scalable AI

Xilinx has announced Versal, the company’s first product based on its adaptive compute acceleration platform (ACAP) concept.

The Versal devices combine scalar processing engines, adaptable hardware engines, and intelligent engines supported by leading-edge memory and interface technologies to deliver heterogeneous acceleration for a range of applications.

Built on TSMC’s 7-nanometer FinFET process technology, the Versal combines software programmability with domain-specific hardware acceleration. The portfolio includes six families that are intended to deliver scalability and AI inference capabilities for a host of applications across different markets.

In creating Versal, Xilinx said it has worked to ensure the ACAP hardware and software can be programmed and optimised by hardware engineers, software developers and data scientists. The products will be supported by a range of tools, software, libraries, IP, middleware and frameworks.

There are three AI-focused families: AI Core; AI Edge; and AI RF. In addition, Xilinx will offer the Versal Prime series, Premium series and HBM series. The components that are designed for AI inferencing employ the company’s AI Engine: a hardware block designed to address the emerging need for low-latency processing. The AI Engine is tightly coupled with the Versal Adaptable Hardware Engines to enable whole-application acceleration.

The portfolio debuts with the Versal Prime series, which is intended to support multiple markets, and the Versal AI Core series, which is expected to deliver an estimated eight-fold improvement over AI inference performance versus industry-leading GPUs.

The Versal AI Core series has five devices, offering 128 to 400 AI Engines. The products incorporate dual-core Arm Cortex-A72 application processors, dual-core Arm Cortex-R5 real-time processors, 256KB of on-chip memory with ECC and more than 1900 DSP engines optimised for high-precision floating point. It also incorporates more than 1.9 million system-logic cells combined with more than 130Mb of UltraRAM, up to 34Mb of block RAM, 28Mb of distributed RAM and 32Mb of new Accelerator RAM blocks.

Also supporting both A72 and R5 multicore processors, the Versal Prime can deploy more than 4000 DSP engines and more than 2 million system-logic cells combined with more than 200Mb of UltraRAM, 90Mb of block RAM, and 30Mb of distributed RAM.

The functional units and interface controllers on the Versal devicees will be interconnected by a network-on-chip. Xilinx is currently engaged with multiple key customers through its early access programme.

The Versal Prime series and Versal AI Core series will be widely available in the second half of 2019.


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