Terry Danzer and Cale Entzel, ON Semiconductor
EETimes (11/28/2011 1:38 PM EST)
Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are a valuable technology for designing and prototyping digital logic into today’s applications. However, high FPGA unit cost can sometimes prohibit higher volume production. Several alternatives exist for transferring a digital design, implemented with an FPGA, into higher-volume production. Low-cost solutions such as structured application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), cell-based ICs, and gate arrays offer higher performance, lower power consumption, higher levels of integration, and better response to radiation effects. The idea of migrating an FPGA design into an ASIC can be overwhelming to a design team, but careful planning and partnering with an experienced ASIC vendor can significantly ease the process.
Designing a new product in an FPGA allows for design modifications to be made quickly in hardware. Once the design code is stable and the product is ready for production, a migration from an FPGA to an ASIC can cut the production unit cost by up to 50%. The low non-recurring engineering (NRE) charges associated with a mid-range ASIC solution coupled with a much lower unit price point make this strategy a powerful tool in achieving low overall expense, giving users a competitive cost advantage in the market.
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