Lattice Semiconductor Launches New FPGA For Cyber-Resilient Systems

By Patrick Moorhead - December 24, 2020

Earlier this week, Lattice Semiconductor announced its newest product built on the Lattice Nexus FPGA platform, the Mach-NX. The Mach-NX FPGA product family addresses the growing threat of firmware hacking attempts on systems, leading to the loss of customer IP. Moor Insights & Strategy has written a lot about this growing threat, funded by nation-states with “as a service” business models. 

As bad actors continue to attack firmware, companies like Lattice Semiconductor need to constantly be upping its games to enable their customers to create cyber-resilient systems. Enter a new FPGA from Lattice. The Mach-NX is a high performance, low power FPGA product family aimed at dynamic, real-time, and end-to-end platform protection. This launch is the next logical step for Lattice on its low power FPGA journey and marks the third Nexus launch in a year. The company is uniquely positioning itself as a leader, if not the leader in low power FPGA security solutions, and this launch helps reinforce that. 

Lattice has been delivering new security-focused FPGAs at a faster cadence than we are used to. Since FPGAs are incredibly flexible, it also gives Lattice the ability to expand its presence into different markets that need programmable security solutions. In recent memory, Lattice launched CrossLink-NX in late 2019, Certus-NX this past summer, and now Mach-NX. You can read my full write up on the Certus-NX launch here. Lattice was ambitious when it promised to speed up its launch cadence by 3x, and it has done just that in 2020. The company seems hyper focused on low power FPGA dominance as 2020 comes to an end, and its future seems bright. 

Lattice Semiconductor Mach NX

As hackers continue to attack firmware vulnerabilities with nation-state budgets and “as a service” models, companies need a flexible, secure solution that can adapt and serve different industries and applications. That problem is the exact reason that Lattice developed its new security-focused FPGA, Mach-NX. The new Mach-NX FPGA family will build on the previous product, the Lattice MachXO3D family. The new Mach-NX product family will address future server platforms, computing, communications, industrial, and automotive systems. Like other Lattice Nexus products, the new Mach-NX FPGA will utilize the same 28 nm FD-SOI fab process. While not a bleeding edge geometry, the specialized FD-SOI process technology allows Lattice to deliver extremely energy-efficient solutions without sacrificing performance. I also believe this solution is much smaller than competing solutions. High performance while maintaining low power matters a lot when you consider that traditionally high-density FPGAs trade power for size. I've talked enough about application and product introduction; let's get into the nuts and bolts of the Mach-NX.

I listed the new features verbatim for the Mach-NX FPGA products from Lattice’s announcement. 

  • Up to 8.4K LC of user logic, 2669kbits of user flash memory, and dual boot flash feature. 
  • Up to 379 programmable I/O supporting 1.2/1.5/1.8/2.5/3.3 I/O voltages.
  • Secure enclave supports 384-bit cryptography, including SHA, HMAC, and ECC.
Lattice Semiconductor Mach-NX

The first goal of a security solution is establishing a Hardware Root of Trust upon boot, which the Mach-NX does. The Mach-NX FPGAs also give users real-time performance against security risks with real-time SPI monitoring. According to Lattice, the Mach-NX FPGAs can again recover firmware within microseconds, where other FPGAs can take 100s of milliseconds or even minutes to recover firmware.  

The 384-bit encryption is a significant security upgrade from the 256-bit encryption we saw with the last generation products. This security level becomes essential, especially when considering the longevity of end products that would adopt the Mach-NX, which could be up to 10 years.  As the number of attack vectors and cyber-attacks is increasing rapidly, security solutions need to adapt and become harder to hack. Another value that customers get from implementing Mach-NX FPGAs is customizing solutions specifically for their applications and use. Customers will be able to configure their FPGAs' security using RISC-V and Lattice's Propel Design Environment. I admire the way Lattice is positioning its Mach-NX solution as a first on, last-off, real-time, fully customizable solution for the customer's unique needs. When you pair these solutions with Lattice’s security service, SupplyGuard, a customer's system can be protected throughout the product life cycle's duration. 

Lattice Semiconductor Mach-NX

Wrapping up 

All in all, Lattice's new Mach-NX looks to deliver on its core value proposition and extends the capabilities of Lattice's previous generation of secure control FPGAs. Attack vectors and hackers will continually evolve their attack methods, and as those change, I believe s Lattice’s solutions will volve to address those methods. 

Since this time last year, Lattice has launched three FPGA product families built on its Lattice Nexus FPGA platform with no signs of slowing down. If you recall, since CEO Jim Anderson took the helm Lattice looks to have generated a tremendous amount of momentum with Lattice Nexus, as further reinforced by the launch of Mach-NX. Add to that the work the company has put in to round out its offerings with application-focused solutions stacks and software design tools, and it’s clear they are laser-focused on delivering on the promise of low power programmable leadership. 

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article. 

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.