Amazon to Use Xilink’s FGPA

Cloud industry is growing at a rapid rate, and this is most evident in the performance and revenue numbers of the Big Seven providers, namely, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, and Facebook. To meet the growing demand from their customers, these companies are increasingly moving their operations to super-fast accelerators that can provide more than ten times the performance of a powerful CPU, and these accelerators are called Field Programmable Gate Array (FGPA) and Graphics Processing Units (GPU).

NVIDIA is one of the leading manufacturers when it comes to GPU,¬† and many companies tap into its processing power for machine learning and AI applications. It’s little wonder that its revenue rose by almost 193 percent year-on-year.

Some companies like Microsoft and Amazon prefer to use FGPA instead of GPU, and this has led to their pervasive use. Xilink is one of the leading providers of FGPA, and so far, Microsoft, Baidu, and Amazon are known to use it for their complex data analysis, Deep Neural Networks (DNN), and AI.

Recently, Amazon announced that it will be offering Xilink services to its customers, and this can be a significant one for Xilink as well as the FGPA industry as a whole. So, what makes this announcement significant?

First off, AWS is the leading cloud provider, so its adoption is sure to give FGPA a big boost. ¬†Second and most importantly, Amazon is the first company to offer these services to their customers. Though Microsoft adopted it earlier, they have not yet offered it as a service to their Azure customers, but Amazon has already started building custom servers on it. As of now, it plans to offer new public F1 Elastic Cloud instances using eight 16nmXilink Ultrascale+ FGPAs for every instance. This will be initially offered as a developer’s platform, so the experienced FGPA community can start building on it.

At this point though, Amazon has made no mention of OpenCL – Xilink’s reconfigurable acceleration stack, but adding these capabilities in the future can create huge opportunities for the early adopters of this technology.

This adoption by Amazon is obviously big business for Xilink, and it helps it to score over its arch-rival, Altera that was acquired by Intel last year. Ironically, Intel announced at the time of acquisition of Altera that more than one-third of cloud nodes would be powered by FGPAs by 2020, and it looks like Xilink maybe the major beneficiary of this growth. If you’re wondering why AWS chose Xilink over Altera, it’s purely from a business standpoint. Xilink is almost a year ahead than Altera in terms of manufacturing technology, and this explains why many leading cloud providers prefer to work with Xilink. But, this doesn’t mean we can rule out Altera, or Intel now, completely. Some reports show that Intel is working hard on its FGPA business, as it believes this could drive its future business interest.

In short, Xilink is the clear leader when it comes to FGPA, though Intel may catch up soon.

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