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Builder - MathStar
< mathstar

Developer MathStar
Manufacturer TSMC
Type Programmable logic device
Introduction 2002 (announced)
2003 (launch)
Production 2003-2006
Word size 16 bit
2 octets
4 nibbles
Process 130 nm
0.13 μm
1.3e-4 mm
Technology CMOS
Clock 100 MHz-1,000 MHz

Builder was a family of FPOAs introduced by MathStar in 2003. This family the earliest attempt at designing an FPOA and was discontinued shortly after due to some technical issues. The Builder family was phased out entirely by 2006.


Main article: field-programmable object array

The Builder family was the MathStar's initial attempt at a field-programmable object array. Each chip contains 100s of silicon objects laid out in a grid, broken down to arrays of five objects each. Instructions are loaded to each of the objects at power-up.

Inter-Object communication was done primarily by passing data to the nearest neighbor through a unidirectional synchronous interconnect. Communication is configured dynamically and on-demand. Each object had the facilities needed for clock synchronization, built-in self-test, etc...


mathstar layout.png

There are five different types of components: Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU), Content Addressable Memory (CAM), Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC), Multiply Accumulator (MAC), and Register File (RF). The control program guides the overall program execution and the datapath setup. Datapath is 16-bit but may be combined with adjacent objects to form larger datapaths of desired size.


  • ALU
    • 16-bit add/sub/shift/rotate/AND/OR/XOR
    • circuitry for cascading status bits for making larger word
  • truth function
  • MAC
  • RF
    • 320 Bytes
    • Configurable 20 or 40-bit data
    • Two modes:
      • Dual-ported RAM, single-cycle access
      • Single-cycle FIFO
  • CRC
    • 16x 20-bit patterns
    • 20-bit result
    • output feedback
  • Internal Block RAM
    • 1024x76b (9KB)


The amount and types of the individual objects were chosen based on the applications the were meant to run on the chip. MathStar divided the product line into BridgeBuilder, FilterBuilder, StorageBuilder, SecurityBuilder and SwitchBuilder.


The BridgeBuilder series was designed for high-speed networking applications handling 10Gbps or more as well as bus bridging applications.

Model Objects Parallel I/O Inter. Serial I/O Trans. GPIO 36-bit Memory Cntr
SOA13C20 200 0-1 0-4 50-200 0-2
SOA13C40 400 0-2 0-16 50-200 0-2
SOA13C80 800 0-2 0-16 50-200 2-4
SOA13C120 1200 0-3 16 50-200 4


The FilterBuilder series was designed for filter applications (high performance FFTs and FIRs).

Model Objects Parallel I/O Inter. GPIO 36-bit Memory Cntr
SOA13D156 156 0-1 50-200 0-2
SOA13D40 400 0-2 50-200 0-2


The FilterBuilder series was aimed to be combined with MathStar's network offload engine.


The SecurityBuilder series was designed for various security applications with libraries that implement custom versions of security protocols at up to 10Gbps throughput.


The SwitchBuilder series was designed for high-performance switching/networking applications such as for PCI-Express, Fibre Channel, Ethernet, RapidIO and others.


Datasheet / Brief[edit]


Application Notes[edit]

See also[edit]

Facts about "Builder - MathStar"
designerMathStar +
first announced2002 +
first launched2003 +
full page namemathstar/builder +
instance ofintegrated circuit family +
main designerMathStar +
manufacturerTSMC +
nameBuilder +
process130 nm (0.13 μm, 1.3e-4 mm) +
technologyCMOS +
word size16 bit (2 octets, 4 nibbles) +