editor's blog
Subscribe Now

To be, or not to be – an FPGA?

A few years ago, we shined light on the fact that FPGAs were stealthily appearing in places where they were not announced.  Namely, both Altera and Lattice semiconductor sell devices that are ostensibly CPLDs, but whose inner workings are most certainly FPGA.  It turns out that the latest process geometries are more friendly to the FPGA architecture than to the classic CPLD architecture, and for people accustomed to using CPLDs, there is really no reason they need to know that an FPGA is hiding under the cap.  

More recently, Xilinx introduced their Zynq family of embedded processors.  Check out the marketing materials – it’s a processing subsystem with … extensibility.  The FPGA word is conspicuously absent.  Is there FPGA fabric in there?  You betcha!  Are they marketing it as an FPGA? Nope.  Don’t want to scare away the embedded folks.

Finally, there is the case of QuickLogic.  A few years ago, they started pretending to NOT be an FPGA company.  They coined the term “CSSP” for – “customer specific standard product” and they started doing the design work for their customers rather than distributing and supporting an FPGA tool chain.  Were those still FPGAs inside there?  Yep.  They were.  

However, now the case of QuickLogic has gotten even MORE interesting.  In their latest family – ArcticLink III VX – there is one important difference from ArcticLink II VX that’s completely hidden from view, and not found in any of the marketing materials.  ArcticLink III VX is – NOT an FPGA.  The FPGA fabric disappeared quietly in the night between versions of the product.  With the new smaller geometry process, it turns out that QuickLogic was able to make hard versions of everything their customers had been wanting more easily than adding antifuse FPGA fabric to the device.  As a result – the new product is probably more correctly an ASSP, but we won’t tell.  

Oh, wait – we just did.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Jan 17, 2020
I once met Steve Wozniak, or he once met me (it's hard to remember the nitty-gritty details)....
Jan 17, 2020
[From the last episode: We saw how virtual memory helps resolve the differences between where a compiler thinks things will go in memory and the real memories in a real system.] We'€™ve talked a lot about memory '€“ different kinds of memory, cache memory, heap memory, vi...
Jan 16, 2020
While Samtec started as a connector company with a focus on two-piece, pin-and-socket board stacking systems, High-Speed Board Stacking connectors and High-Speed Cable Assemblies now make up a significant portion of our sales. To support development in this area, in December ...
Jan 16, 2020
Betting on Hydrogen-Powered Cars On-demand DRC within P&R cuts closure time in half for MaxLinear Functional Safety Verification For AV SoC Designs Accelerated With Advanced Tools Automating the pain out of clock domain crossing verification Mentor unpacks LVS and LVL iss...

Featured Video

Automotive Trends Driving New SoC Architectures -- Synopsys

Sponsored by Synopsys

Today’s automotive trends are driving new design requirements for automotive SoCs targeting ADAS, gateways, connected cars and infotainment. Find out why it is essential to use pre-designed, pre-verified, reusable automotive-optimized IP to meet such new requirements and accelerate design time.

Click here for more information about DesignWare IP for Automotive