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OpenCL drives Altera's stake in Lime

Flexible RF chip designer Lime Microsystems is teaming up with Altera in a deal driven by the increased adoption of the OpenCL programming language.

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The 'strategic cooperation agreement includes Altera making an investment in Lime and is focused on jointly developing programmable solutions for a wide range of broadband wireless markets.
Altera has put a lot of effort has gone into making their technology so widely acceptable and a lot of this is around OpenCL which I believe will put FPGAs into the hands of a wide range of people, said Ebrahim Bushehri, CEO of Lime Microsystems. OpenCL was developed for programming multicore graphics devices but Altera has been using it to simplify block-based design in FPGAs.

Lime's single-chip RF transceiver supports all mainstream global wireless communication standards and coupled with Altera's FPGA technology can simplify small cell deployment and enable the creation of low-cost mobile networks.

Alteras leading-edge technology, strong industry reputation, and diverse customer-base will allow us to quickly expand our business by providing complete field-programmable RF and digital solutions to our customers worldwide," said Bushehri. "As the Internet of Things and next-generation wireless networks take shape, our partnership will result in customers using programmable RF and FPGA technologies to accelerate their time-to-market and develop solutions that support existing and emerging wireless standards as well as proprietary wireless communication systems.

As demand for mobile data traffic continues to increase, small cell wireless backhaul systems are projected to handle a quarter of mobile traffic by 2016, according to analyst firm Infonetics. This trend is reshaping mobile networks and carriers are looking for ways to simplify complexity and costs of small cell deployment.

Altera has also been leading with co-packaging die, and the deal opens up the possibility for a programmable RF chip in the same package as the FPGA baseband with ARM controller, creating a flexible low cost wireless node for the Internet of Things."

He also sees Myriad-RF open source hardware as a key way of giving developers easy access to Altera-Lime optimized reference designs, boards, and software stacks and drivers to quickly, easily and affordably build next-generation wireless systems. We are trying to follow the same business model as FPGAs and we want to replicate that success in the wireless domain, he said.

Bushehri would not comment on whether the investment prevents Lime from working directly with Alteras competitors such as Xilinx and Microsemi, but neither have the same emphasis on OpenCL. We are putting the technology out there for everyone, he said. For example we supply our devices through [distributors] Digi-key and Arrow so anyone can use it alongside an FPGA as well as an ASIC or a general purpose processor. The bottleneck is always at the RF and thats what Lime is solving.

We have been working with Lime Microsystems over the last several years and have been very impressed with their technology and the company, said Jeff Waters, senior vice president for Business Units, Altera. Limes technology has been adopted by companies around the world for a wide range of applications from software defined radio devices for military and emergency services to communications infrastructure, disaster relief networks, M2M technoloy and test/verification systems. Combining our technologies, reference designs and technical resources will provide even more rapid and expanded market adoption of Lime FPRF and Altera FPGA product and solution offerings.

With the investment from Altera, the companies also will work closely in marketing, sales and technical support activities worldwide and produce reference designs that can be further customized for specific applications and features. This will expand Alteras FPGA customer base to include wireless applications beyond carrier grade base stations and remote radio units. These applications include enterprise wireless networks, small cell carrier grade infrastructure, military communication systems, software defined radio, and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications in the industrial, test and high-end consumer space.

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