Technology

Through its acquisition of Altera in 2015, Intel adopted a long legacy of innovation which brought decades of leading-edge programmable silicon solutions to the market. These innovations date back to the early 1980s, when Altera first capitalized on the need for a user-programmable standard product as an alternative to gate arrays, and pioneered the first reprogrammable logic device, the EP300.

Today, Intel couples its leading-edge product and manufacturing process with leading-edge FPGA technology to enable new classes of products that meet customer needs in the data center and Internet-of-Things market segements.

Table 1 lists major Intel FPGA industry innovations.

Table 1. Programmable Logic Device (PLD) Industry Innovation Firsts

Year PLD Industry Innovation Firsts
2015 Intel completes acquisition of Altera. Altera will operate as a new Intel business unit called the Programmable Solutions Group (PSG) led by Altera veteran, Dan McNamara.
2013 Altera Corporation and Intel Corporation today announced that the companies have entered into an agreement for the future manufacture of Altera FPGAs on Intel’s 14 nm Tri-Gate transistor technology.
2011 The ability to generate FPGA designs directly from OpenCL™ programs opens the promise of FPGA-based acceleration to programmers working in this parallel language.
2011 Integrated optical interfacing: optical fiber transducers inside the chip, allowing direct connection to fiber-optic links eliminates the size, cost, and interface difficulty of external modules.
2007 First use of parallel algorithms in FPGA placement tools greatly reduced run times for FPGA design tools.
2006 The ability to generate the design for a computational accelerator block directly from ANSI C code lets users create custom hardware directly from their software.
2006 Programmable Power: using adjustable substrate bias to select the threshold voltage of logic transistors gives users input to the speed-power tradeoff within blocks.
2005 Incremental Compilation: users can modify a portion of their design without recompiling the whole thing, gives a huge productivity improvement to design teams.
2004 The Adaptive Logic Module: a substantially more flexible logic cell, allowing denser, faster, lower-power designs allows users to more fully exploit their silicon.
2002 SOPC Builder allows users to assemble working systems from pre-verified plug-and-play IP blocks and a standard interconnect scheme.
2002 DSP blocks embedded in an FPGA: faster, lower-power arithmetic functions using far fewer logic cells opens new high-performance DSP applications to FPGAs.
2001 HardCopy®: the first device able to implement an FPGA design directly in a customer-specific, mass-production chip gives users a clean migration to higher volumes.
2001 Tool that automatically generates interconnect fabric between blocks in an FPGA: eliminates the need for designers to laboriously connect each pin on each block to form a subsystem.
2001 High-speed serial transceivers embedded in an FPGA: the ability to connect directly to high-speed channels without external transceivers frees users from evaluating and buying external transceivers.
2000 First microprocessor fabricated directly on, and fully integrated into, an FPGA die: a high-performance LVDS I/O on an FPGA allows very high-speed digital I/O at substantially lower power.
2000 First microprocessor fabricated directly on, and fully integrated into, an FPGA die: a high-performance microprocessor interfaced to the FPGA logic fabric gives unprecedented integration and performance with the potential of significant power savings.
2000 First microprocessor core optimized for implementation in an FPGA logic fabric: users could include a RISC CPU in their designs without external chips.
1999 Logic analysis embedded into the FPGA: gives users the ability to observe the function of the logic from inside the chip.
1998 Hierarchical routing topology allows routing tools to exploit the natural organization of the user’s design.
1997 FPGA configuration via JTAG interface simplifies board design and system initialization.
1996 First phase-locked loop in an FPGA: the beginning of integrating analog functions onto the FPGA die eliminates delicate external components and clocks.
1995 Block RAM embedded in an FPGA: large amounts of flexible memory integrated into an FPGA for the first time allows local memory for accelerators and state machines.
1992 Altera’s first FPGA: a flexible sea of logic elements instead of a structured logic function generator broadens the range of programmable applications.
1989 First integrated, graphical design environment combines schematic input, compilation, design simulation, and device programming software into a single environment.
1988 First high-density complex programmable logic device: programmable logic begins the evolution from executing a simple logic function to implementing a subsystem.
1987 First PLD to include a dedicated I/O bus interface greatly simplifies creation of devices to be attached to a standard bus.
1984 First reprogrammable logic device. Previous devices could only be programmed once.
1983 Founding of Altera Corporation.