Intel spices up its FPGA game with open source and RISC-V freebies

Tech buffet of updates dished out ahead of IFTD event

Intel has expanded its FPGA line-up with cost-optimized offerings, open sourced the official release of its software stack, and added a free RISC-V processor design, among other updates.

The Santa Clara chipmaker said it is broadening the Agilex FPGA portfolio to meet an increased demand for customized workloads – including, inevitably, AI processing – and to offer customers a more comprehensive line-up.

Among the new arrivals are products in the Agilex 3 device family, described by Intel as power and cost-optimized FPGAs available in compact form factors. This device family was announced by the company earlier this year as the lowest rung of the Agilex portfolio below the Agilex 5, 7 and 9 lines, but details were not disclosed at the time.


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The Agilex 3 family will initially comprise the B-Series and C-Series devices. B-Series FPGAs have higher I/O density in smaller form factors, and target applications such as board and system management, including server platform management, Intel said. The C-Series have additional capabilities for complex programmable logic devices (CPLD) and other FPGA applications across vertical markets.

Intel is also working to deliver Agilex 5 E-Series devices as part of its early access program, sampling to early access customers from Q4 2023, with broader shipments in Q1 2024. These new additions to the Agilex 5 family are intended to deliver better performance per watt than rival FPGAs, thanks to the Intel 7 process node technology which was optimized for this.

The chipmaker declared that it has taken its AI tensor block from the previous generation high-end offerings and is making this available on the mid-range Agilex 5 family as an attempt to make these more attractive for edge AI applications. Simics – a complete system simulator for pre-silicon and post-silicon software development, testing, and system integration – is promised for Agilex 5 in Q4 2023.

On the software side, Intel's Open FPGA Stack (OFS) is officially available as open source, providing developers with full access to the hardware code, software code, and technical documentation. OFS is intended as a common framework for FPGA development, combining reference code libraries and upstreamed, open source kernel drivers for Linux.

OFS supports Intel Agilex and Stratix 10 FPGAs, and the company said that partners such as BittWare, Hitek Systems, and SigmaX have deployable OFS-based offerings available.

Also announced is a new member of Intel's Nios V processor IP designs, which are based on the open standard RISC-V architecture. The Nios V/c is a compact microcontroller that is available at no cost for inclusion in customer FPGA implementations. It will also target all devices supported in the Quartus Prime Pro programmable logic device design software, Intel said.

All of these latest products and technologies are set to be showcased at Intel's FPGA Technology Day (IFTD) in San Jose on September 18.

"We're eager to share this new FPGA line-up with customers and partners at the annual IFTD event and to detail the opportunities these offerings will accelerate in programmable innovations," Shannon Poulin, corporate VP and GM of Programmable Solutions Group, said in a statement. ®

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