Powering the Data Era with FPGA Acceleration

A host of technology mega-trends—including the explosion in the number of connected things, the rise of mobility, and increased network traffic—are fueling a new Data Era that is the force behind a massive innovation phase from the edge, through the network, to the cloud.

At the edge, there is a new class of autonomous and intelligent machines—from smart factories, smart cities, to self-driving automobiles—that process and generate ever increasing amounts of data. This data then traverses the network infrastructure that’s dealing with multi-fold increases in traffic from new applications—like 4K and 8K video and VR/AR—that are driving the need for network transformation and acceleration.  In the data center, extreme volumes of data new, changing workloads—like search, AI, and video transcode—must be processed within limitations of power and cost.

At today’s Intel Data Centric Innovation Summit, we discussed how we effectively transport, process, analyze, and gather timely intelligent insights from all of this data. Many of our customers find the performance growth rate of certain workloads exceeds what can be efficiently delivered with microprocessors alone, or these workloads need to operate at very high speed under power/thermal-constrained conditions, including dense data centers or out on the edge. In those cases, FPGAs can step in to offer highly-efficient, customizable acceleration that can be programmed and tuned to the specific characteristics of the workload. Whether they are an Enterprise or a Cloud or Communications Service Provider, flexible acceleration with Intel® FPGAs allow our customers to launch new services more rapidly and improve overall TCO.

An Accelerating Market Segment

Due to the growth of data and the need for acceleration, the FPGA market is projected to grow from $5B today to over $8B by 2022. If we consider fixed function accelerators like application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and application-specific standard products (ASSPs)—which FPGAs have rapidly begun to replace—then the FPGA market opportunity approaches double that by 2022. This is a dynamic and rapidly growing market, which is why Intel’s FPGA business unit, the Programmable Solutions Group, has grown 17% year-over-year in 1H’18, with 140% year-over-year growth in the data center business, and 50% growth with advanced products, which are our newest product families and include 28nm, 20nm, and 14nm products.

Strong and Growing Customer Momentum

The growth and adoption of FPGA acceleration is taking place across all vertical market segments. In the cloud, customers like Yandex and Microsoft are using Intel® FPGAs for accelerating AI, search, and in their core infrastructure—which includes networking, storage, and security. Intel® FPGAs are also being used to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, such as land cover mapping within Microsoft’s AI for Earth initiative.

"With Microsoft’s AI for Earth program we are putting our cloud and AI tools in the hands of those working to solve global environmental challenges—a topic that requires combining big data, big compute, and efficient algorithms. Deploying deep neural network models to field-programmable gate array (FPGA) services using Microsoft Project Brainwave* is one super simple way to achieve this. Recently we used this FPGA service to perform land cover mapping of the entire United States, analyzing 10 trillion pixels across 20 TB of aerial imagery. Microsoft Project Brainwave, using Intel® FPGAs, scored these 200 million images in entirety in just over 10 minutes for a cost of $42."
— Doug Burger, Technical Fellow, Azure HW Systems Group

In the enterprise, OEMs including Dell, Fujitsu, Quanta, and Inspur are adopting Intel® FPGA accelerator solutions to augment their server architectures. We’re also pleased to be paving the way in network transformation with Network Function Virtualization (NFV) lab trials with China Telecom, and at the edge we’re partnering with Dahua to accelerate its Deep Sense* series of servers using Intel® FPGAs for real-time inference for image comparisons across a database of hundreds of thousands of photos.

This is an exciting era of data, and we are in the middle of a massive innovation phase where IA+FPGAs play a central role. With the growing FPGA TAM in these transformative markets and Intel’s recent acquisition of leading structured ASIC manufacturer eASIC, Intel continues innovating in this rapidly growing market and creating increased customer value with new IA+FPGA solutions at the edge, network and cloud.

We’re excited about the future of acceleration, and we hope you’ll join us in this journey.  To learn more about Intel® FPGAs, please visit www.intel.com/fpga

Check out all the news from Intel’s Data Centric Innovation Summit here.

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Dan McNamara

About Dan McNamara

Daniel (Dan) McNamara is corporate vice president and general manager of the Programmable Solutions Group (PSG) at Intel Corporation. He is responsible for executing a strategy to plan, position and support the company’s programmable hardware, IP, and software solutions and power product portfolio. He leads the collaboration with other Intel business groups to ensure the successful utilization of programmable technology in other areas of Intel’s business. He has profit and loss responsibility for PSG, leading a global organization across multiple markets. McNamara joined Intel in December 2015, upon close of Intel’s acquisition of Altera Corporation. He served most recently as vice president and general manager of Altera’s Embedded Division leading the teams responsible for programmable technologies for industrial, test and medical, broadcasting, automotive, power, military and broad base market segments. McNamara has more than 25 years of experience in the semiconductor industry. In addition to various leadership roles during his 11 years with Altera, McNamara served as director of Sales at StargGen Inc. and as a co-founder and vice president of startup Semitech Solutions Inc. He began his career as a radar systems engineer at Raytheon Corp. in Massachusetts. McNamara received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in electrical engineering, from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.