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Under the data torrent, FPGA will be the new driving force for data centers

In early 2018, Xilinx announced the company's three new strategies: data center priority, accelerating core market development, and driving flexible computing. How effective are these three strategies after one and a half years? Xilinx gave the answer at the Xilinx Developer Conference (XDF) Asia 2019 held in Beijing on December 3.

Results of the new strategy

In this year and a half, the flood of data that swept the world has become even more turbulent. According to IDC's forecast, from 2018 to 2025, the global data created, collected or copied will increase by more than five times each year, and it is expected to increase from 32ZB in 2018 to 175ZB in 2025.

The tsunami of data will impact the existing data center architecture. "Traditional architectures are no longer sufficient for new applications," said Victor Peng, Xilinx president and CEO. "The industry urgently needs architectural innovation, and more flexible, adaptive, and software-defined FPGAs will become A strong impetus for continued innovation in data centers. "

For the data center field, Xilinx launched the world's fastest data center accelerator card Alveo accelerator card series on XDF last year. In more than one year, in order to meet the different needs of users for computing power, size, memory bandwidth and cost, four major product series, U50, U200, U250, and U280, have been successively launched to greatly improve the cloud and local data center servers. performance.

The results give back to Xilinx's efforts. According to the financial report for the second quarter of fiscal 2020, Xilinx's data center business increased by 24% year-on-year and quarterly by 92%. At the same time, Xilinx's ecosystem in the data center field is also developing very fast. Major OEMs such as Inspur, Dell, and HP have launched servers based on Xilinx Alveo accelerator cards. Industry-leading distributors Clolfax, Ingram has also joined the Alveo ecosystem.

Beyond the data center, Xilinx's core markets also include automotive, communications and other fields. In the automotive field, Xilinx has shipped more than 170 million units in the past ten years, of which 67 million units are in the ADAS field. In 2018 alone, Xilinx already has 29 partner brands in the automotive field, and related devices have also been applied to 111 models.

"We already have a 200 ADAS and autonomous driving customer base, including the world's major tier one, original equipment manufacturers and start-ups. Dan Isaacs, Xilinx Automotive Strategy and Customer Marketing Director, emphasizes:" Xilinx is ADAS and autonomous The preferred chip vendor for driving as our products have expanded from edge sensors to domain controllers with a common architecture. "

With the rapid formation of 5G services, the communications industry is experiencing a new round of rapid development. In April 2019, Xilinx and Samsung jointly completed the world's first commercial deployment of 5G NR in South Korea. Xilinx UltraScale + platform has extremely low power consumption, large memory capacity, and low heat dissipation, helping Samsung to develop cutting-edge 5G products with light weight, compact size and low power consumption. At the same time, there are many 5G wireless small cells based on Xilinx Zynq US + RFSoC are being deployed. Liam Madden, executive vice president of Xilinx and general manager of the wired and wireless business unit, said that Xilinx products can help operators achieve end-to-end communication infrastructure upgrades.

Beyond data centers and core markets, computing technology is finally coming to the fore. Xilinx officially introduced the latest Vitis unified software platform for the Asian market (first released at the XDF US in early October). This platform will enable software engineers, artificial intelligence scientists, and other broader developers to benefit from Xilinx's flexibility. Advantages of hardware acceleration. This is the first time that Xilinx has launched a "big unification" development tool platform for software and hardware design. It is also one of the company's landmark products for its strategic transformation from a device to a platform enterprise. Vitis can automatically adapt and use Xilinx hardware architecture based on software or algorithm code, freeing users from complicated hardware expertise. For hardware developers, Vitis can significantly improve work efficiency through the collaboration of software and hardware engineers on the same tool platform.

Most importantly, Xilinx announced that Vitis AI, an artificial intelligence inference development software platform, will be available for free download today. Vitis AI provides a unified development platform for end-to-cloud AI applications, including complete optimization, quantification, compilation, and analysis tools, as well as high-level unified programming interfaces based on C ++, Python, and also provides a wealth of performance-oriented Optimized AI models and acceleration libraries and corresponding example designs improve the development efficiency of AI inference. According to reports, with the introduction of the Vitis and Vitis AI platforms, Xilinx has also gradually transformed into a software platform company.

Data is central, convergence continues

This conference is also the first time Salil Raje, Xilinx's executive vice president and general manager of the data center business unit, has appeared in front of the public in this capacity.

"In our data center-first strategy, there are three subdivision levels, one is computing, the other is network, and the third is storage." Salil Raje believes: "By 2025, the field of computing is the largest, network and storage It will also grow very fast. But from an income perspective, the gap between these three sectors in the next few years will be small. "

"On the network side, we will have a smart network card, SmartNIC, which will handle the direct data inflow process on the network. In the storage part, Xilinx solutions can achieve a very good aggregation of computing and storage capabilities without having to allow data to be stored in SSD and CPUs move back and forth. "Salil Raje further explained Xilinx's product strategy.

How should Vitis, a much-watched tool, understand its relationship with the data center? Salil Raje gave an in-depth interpretation of this. "Unlike the previous Vivado, Vitis is mainly aimed at software. Now computing centers need unified tools to transfer data from the device to the cloud, edges and endpoints. Vitis is such a Tools for re-architecture and data movement. "

The launch of Vitis has also enriched Xilinx's products for data centers, but competition in this market is also very fierce. How can Yang keep a competitive advantage?

In this regard, Salil Raje believes that Xilinx has three advantages:

The first is that the product has a strong self-adaptation ability, which can be customized for the application. The data flow, including memory and precision, can be customized, and it is customized for different workloads.

The second is that FPGA actually has a strong bandwidth processing capability. When some real-time data flows in, data can be processed at the same time. You don't have to wait until the data is transferred to the SSD or some other storage device to start. Data processing,

Finally, the product is small and can store data in any location, such as offloading to computing or network, or any location of SSD.

In addition to these features, Xilinx FPGA products have inherent advantages. We must know that in addition to the traditional video streaming data, today's data centers still have a large amount of unstructured data coming from IoT nodes, which can reflect the advantages of FPGAs. "Customers want to be able to operate and process data at the same time when the Internet of Things is connected to the data center. And because of the powerful parallel processing capabilities of FPGAs, it is possible to connect the Internet of Things to the data center. Simultaneous data manipulation. "Salil Raje concluded.

Salil Raje thinks Xilinx products are very suitable for the Chinese market. "Because the innovation speed in the Chinese market is very fast, new applications such as live broadcast and social media particularly require low-latency devices, and these are the advantages of Xilinx products."

His conclusion has also been fully confirmed in this XDF Asian station. From the keynote speeches, the participation of Inspur, Alibaba, Baidu, Inspur and Zhongtai Securities, as well as the sharing of industry leaders from various fields in China in the branch venues, to the creative ideas of many local Chinese enterprises based on Xilinx adaptive computing platform The products, solutions and terminal applications of Xilinx can be seen in the deep integration of Xilinx and the Chinese market. With the development of AI and 5G technologies, this integration will continue to develop at a faster pace.