Lattice’s New MachXO3D Security FPGA And Updated sensAI Look Compelling

By Patrick Moorhead - July 31, 2019
Lattice CEO Jim Anderson provides an overview on sensAI 2.0 MachXO3D

At the end of May, I had the opportunity to attend Lattice Semiconductor’s financial analyst day at NASDAQ MarketSitein New York City. I am not a financial analyst, but an industry analyst, but financial analyst days are the best place to go to get the “skinny” on a company with the least amount of time. I wrote about the event here.

Lattice caught my attention over the past year for a few reasons. It recently installed Jim Anderson (a very respected AMD alum) as CEO and has brought in a crack team of FPGA industry veterans from around the country. Accelerated computing is hot right now and as Moore’s Law slows down, the industry is investing more and more into accelerated computing technology, including GPUs, FPGAs, DSPs, and ASICS. Today, I wanted to follow up on two of the most interesting low power FPGA product announcements from the event.


One of the product announcements that caught my eye was a new FPGA, which Lattice calls MachXO3D. The big differentiator for MachXO3D is that it has hardware-based security built into it—in the event of a firmware breach, it can protect, detect, and recover itself and other system components. In this day and age, security really has to be baked into every system component. I’ve been singing this song for years—here’s an article I wrote on the topic back in 2017. Firmware has been growing as an attack vector, and the consequences of a breach or DDoS attack can be dire, in terms of both financials and brand reputation (maybe you remember the huge Mirai bot attack from a few years back).

MachXO3D features

FPGAs are great for short-circuiting these attacks because they can perform multiple parallel functions, allowing them to identify and respond to firmware threats quicker. When MachXO3D is utilized to implement system control functions, it is usually the “first-on/last-off” part of the circuit board. In other words, it’s the first link in the chain of trust. MachXO3D protects systems by securing the communication between the FPGA and legitimate firmware providers throughout the component’s entire lifecycle. A nice feather in MachXO3D’s cap is that it is the industry’s first control-oriented FPGA that is compliant with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Platform Firmware Resilience specification.

MachXO3D in an OEM or ODM server

Having surveyed global server OEMs and ODMs, I can tell you this part will be very important for the datacenter segment.

sensAI 2.0

The second announcement I wanted to hit on was a round of enhancements to Lattice’s sensAI stack, which the company calls “a comprehensive hardware and software solution” designed to bring low-power, always-on AI inference capabilities to smart edge devices. These capabilities minimize the need to leverage cloud-based analytics, which comes with a host of issues including data privacy, latency, and bandwidth restrictions.

Improvements to sensAI

The upgrades to sensAI include a performance boost of 10 times over the previous edition, an expansion of neural network and ML frameworks support, simple neural network debugging via USB, support for quantization and fraction setting schemes, and new customizable reference designs. Lattice also highlighted sensAI’s growing design service partner ecosystem at the event.

Wrapping up

I believe Lattice’s latest, low power FPGA offerings stand out in the crowded, higher-power field for edge AI and security. I am very interested to see many of the end products come out to see them in action.

I am also very interested in getting more information on what Lattice called its “next-generation FPGA platform” based on 28nm FDSOI that the company says will offer a completely new FPGA architecture with faster connectivity with 50% faster interfaces, adding more AI inferencing performance with increased DSP and 5X more on-chip memory, and   adding secure key provisioning. Exciting stuff going over at Lattice Semiconductor.

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

Patrick Moorhead
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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.