>> Monday, June 1, 2015
After months of rumors, it's finally official. Intel has agreed to pay $16.7B to purchase Altera. This will make them a major force in the world of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).
Some analysts have questioned this deal, stating that the FPGA market is too small to be worth Intel's time. But they don't understand. Intel is going to use Altera's technology to create an entirely new type of computational device. Like peanut butter and chocolate, FPGAs and CPUs are two great things that go great together.
I'd love to know what the killer app will be. Database acceleration? Video compression? Deep packet inspection? According to this posting, Intel is looking for someone who knows OpenCL, FPGAs, and RF circuits. It looks like they're trying to perform all of a smartphone's processing on one device. Should we call it a smartphone on a chip (SPoC)? How about Field Programmable Processing Unit (FPPU)?
At the very least, I hope Intel will fix the vendor lock-in problem. Right now, you can't program Xilinx FPGAs without Xilinx's software and you can't program Altera FPGAs without Altera's software. But if Intel allows third-party tools to access their FPGA fabric the way they allow third-party access to their processors, it will be a major step forward.