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Lattice Avant Answering the Aerospace and Defense Need for SWaP-C

Lattice Avant Answering the Aerospace and Defense Need for SWaP-C
Posted 01/04/2023 by Luke Miller, Vice President Aerospace and Defense Business Development

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As we begin 2023, I realized that this year is my 27th Year in semiconductors with a focus on Aerospace and Defense (A&D). One of my proudest accomplishments during this time is the impacts I’ve had on the end states for military forces, which continue to this day in my work at Lattice.

Did you know that 72 percent of all A&D platforms (Radar, Electronic Warfare, military communications software defined radio, etc.) use FPGAs and FPGAs represent approximately 35 percent of the U.S. Department of Defense’s microelectronics spend ? That number will grow as commonly accepted laws of the semiconductor industry, like Moore’s, Amdahl’s, and Dennard, are no longer scaling, causing system and application developers to look for new ways to gain an advantage.

In designs where power efficiency, light weight, and performance are all essential to ensure the success of a variety of mission types, FPGAs have distinct advantages compared to other types of semiconductors, like ASICs. In general, FPGAs are inherently programmable (and reprogrammable) via in-field updates to meet the system or application needs, which can change over time. Additionally, FPGAs are capable of processing data in a parallel fashion whereby operations are performed at the same time, not sequentially. This type of processing allows the FPGA to deliver significantly higher performance using lower clock speeds consuming lower power.

ASICs are often considered as an option for A&D applications; however, they have some key drawbacks that can derail their effectiveness, including long, costly design cycles and fixed function that can yield them incapable of addressing evolving mission needs and threats, in addition to being limited to serial processing capabilities.

Expanding Our A&D Footprint with Lattice Avant

Lattice FPGAs allow system designers to implement various algorithms and interfaces, at any time. And our new Lattice Avant™ FPGA platform expands our ability to address our A&D customers’ needs for low power, small size, and performance. Combining new innovation at every layer of its grounds-up architecture with 16nm FinFET process technology, Lattice Avant enables us to address new categories of A&D applications across the control plane and the data plane. This includes applications/platforms such as military communications software defined radio (SDR), radio frequency (RF) Edge, Radar/Electronic Warfare (EW), and the Internet Battlefield of Things.

    Key benefits our Lattice Avant platform provides for A&D applications include:
  • Power Efficiency: New processing developments are realized at lower power which enables lower cost thermal solutions and longer battery life.
  • Higher Performance: Compute and architecture optimizations leading to high reliability to provide better single event error (SEE) and single event upset (SEU) performance
  • Smaller Size: Class-leading small package size enables lighter, more compact systems and platforms.
  • Robust Security: Hardware security engine with advanced, reprogrammable cryptographic algorithms protects hardware IP and enables real-time encryption and decryption of data up to 10 Gbps.

Not only does the Lattice Avant FPGA platform yield the above benefits, but our engineers also designed it from the ground up for mid-range FPGA applications, maximizing every Picojoule in every DSP, BRAM, I/O, SERDES, fabric, etc. and delivering modernized interfaces such as GbE, PCIe®, and DDR4. Combined, Lattice Avant is a leading edge, state of the art low power FPGA platform optimized for SWaP-C.

In comparison, other companies take a “waterfall” approach to their development efforts in this portion of the FPGA market, taking architectures optimized for high-end purposes and removing capabilities to try to fit A&D application needs.

Lattice Avant Platform

Addressing Key A&D Mission Needs with Lattice Avant

The most common concerns modern military forces have when it comes to developing systems and infrastructure are water, battery life, and ammunition. Systems that use lower power FPGAs have longer battery life, enabling longer missions. And, if those same FPGAs also provide a small size advantage, the overall device design can be lighter and more compact. This leaves more room for water and ammunition. It really is that simple. Factor in lower costs and multiply the number of platforms by number of soldiers and even the logistics of shipping the equipment leads to lower mission costs based on less fuel consumption. The benefits and ramifications of choosing low power, small FPGAs will ripple through the whole defense infrastructure.

Lattice Avant Platform Block Diagram

In the above block diagram of the Lattice Avant FPGA platform, note the up to 1800 DSP, which enables applications such as Digital Adaptive Beamforming, SDR, EW, Digital RF Memories (DRFM), and more. It is important to note that further DSP optimizations are realized as the Block RAM (BRAM) and DSP can be clocked up to 625 MHz and the FPGA fabric at 350 MHz. Since DSP are usually fed by BRAM, the Lattice Avant FPGA has more BRAM than DSP, thus solving concerns around the DSP pipeline stalling for lack of internal memory.

Since many of these A&D platforms will interface to mixed signal devices such as Analog Data Converters and Digital to Analog Converters the Lattice Avant platform allows extreme flexibility using SERDES that could implement JESD204B/C and CMOS/LVDS for latency-sensitive applications such as EW. In the below figure is a Mini DFRM that could be realized using a Lattice Avant FPGA, in a very small form factor.


With many A&D platforms being disaggregated, heterogeneous and multidomain warfare architectures with security and anti-tamper become paramount. As military organizations continue investing in the development of new intellectual property (IP) that gets deployed in systems used in foreign fields, the risk of that technology ending up in the adversary’s hands is inevitable. Therefore, anti-tamper and other security mitigation capabilities need to be in place to prevent loss of IP and reverse engineering. Lattice is extremely proud to be leading the way with respect to Lattice Avant security features as shown below.

Lattice Avant security features

Features such as Physically Unclonable Function (PUF), True Random Number Generator (TRNG), Bit Stream Encryption/Authentication, and other features ensures our A&D partners will be able to support Foreign Military Sales (FMS).

2023 is going to be an exciting year for Lattice A&D and I encourage you to reach out to the team here to learn much, much more about the Lattice Avant FPGA Platform and all our solutions for the A&D market to see how we can partner together.