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Intel launches standalone FPGA company to revolutionise AI
Fri, 1st Mar 2024

Intel has unveiled Altera, their new standalone FPGA company, set to address the growing complexities and opportunities introduced by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) across various sectors. The initiative, announced overnight, will utilise the FPGA AI Suite and OpenVINO to generate optimised intellectual property based on established frameworks such as TensorFlow and PyTorch.

Altera aims to actively contribute to the growth in target FPGA markets, spanning the realm of cloud, network, and edge. Concurrently, the improvement of their best-in-class Quartus Prime software and the integration of easily accessible AI capabilities aim to capitalise on this rapidly expanding application segment.

The launch of Altera was jointly announced by CEO Sandra Rivera and COO Shannon Poulin, who also unveiled a series of new products and services tailored to customer needs. Stating the company's agenda, Rivera said, "As customers deal with increasingly complex technological challenges and work to differentiate themselves from their competitors and accelerate time to value, we have an opportunity to reinvigorate the FPGA market."

Rivera expressed the company's resolve to lead with a "bold, agile and customer-obsessed approach" aimed at delivering programmable solutions and accessible AI across a variety of applications in the comms, cloud, data centre, embedded, industrial, automotive and mil-aero market segments.

In addition to carving a niche in the cloud, network, and edge markets, Altera also aims to enhance AI capabilities, addressing the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence. This initiative will involve the use of FPGA AI Suite and OpenVINO to generate optimised intellectual property. According to the company, the Altera FPGA (field-programmable gate arrays) provides dynamic solutions to cater to changing market demands, notably the integration of critical AI inferencing capabilities, as well as adaptation to evolving standards such as PCI Express, CXL, Ethernet and 6G wireless.

Their solutions aim to target a broad range of markets and use cases, spanning from networking and communication infrastructure to low-power embedded applications. In connection with the launch, Altera also unveiled new products and services to cater for customer needs.

Among the products announced is the Agilex 9, now in volume production, which offers the industry's fastest data converters ideal for radar and military-aerospace applications. The Agilex 7 F-series and I-series devices have been released, featuring twice the fabric performance per watt compared to competing FPGAs, making them suitable for high-bandwidth compute applications such as data centres, networking, and defence.

The Agilex 5, boasting the only FPGA fabric infused with AI, is now available and offers superior performance and 1.6 times better performance per watt compared to competing products; it is targeted towards embedded and edge applications. The Agilex 3, set to hit soon, will provide a leading value, low-power line of FPGAs to low-complexity functions for cloud, communications, and intelligent edge applications.