By John East, CEO, Actel Corp.June 23, 2006 -- pldesignline.com
With the move to each new digital integrated circuit process generation, the industry roars down the same perilous road: "ASIC Deployment Costs Avenue." Inevitably, the sheer magnitude of these costs has made the ASIC option evolve into the purview of the few, available only to companies with the resources, experience, and volumes to justify the astronomical development costs and risks. At the same time, design complexity has also increased. So, ASIC respins have become not only more common, but more costly as well.
Fortunately, over time, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have grown in capacity, performance, and capability, incorporating more and more of the system functionality and providing desirable flexibility to the system. Naturally, this metamorphosis in the FPGA market has given designers reason to pause and ask: "Can I use an FPGA instead of an ASIC to save time and money?"
Is the one-for-one replacement of FPGA for ASIC akin to driving the wrong way down a one-way street?
We believe the answer is a resounding "No!"
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