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Embedded (eFPGA) FPGA is the next big market for semiconductor IP. It can be used on almost every kind of digital chip and has a significant software value add as well, much like the market for embedded processors. When it comes to chip design, eFPGA provides competitive advantages that can add up to millions of dollars in savings and flexibility that up until now was not possible. Because eFPGA enables designers to make changes after RTL is frozen, chip designers have the flexibility to make changes at any point in the chip’s life span, even in the customers’ systems. This eliminates many expensive chip spins and enables chip designers to start addressing many customers and applications with the same chips. It also extends the life of chips and systems because designers are now able to update their chips as protocols and standards change.
According to Gartner, the market share of semiconductors with eFPGA is expected to approach $10B in 2023 with greater than 50% compounded annual growth. However, like any high growth market, achieving such rapid market adoption is not just about having amazingly innovative technology. It also needs to be very easy to implement or integrate into existing projects and design teams. That is where eFPGA shines. In fact, citing one of our recent customer tape-outs, the whole process took only two and a half months from IP delivery on a FinFET process – and the silicon worked the first time!
One of the reasons that eFPGA is taking off so quickly is because it’s applicable to such a wide range of markets and applications. In the defense market, DARPA is using it for their chip development and recently expanded the availability of eFPGA to its research teams. Networking companies are using it so that their accelerators can now reside in the eFPGA on the same chip as the Data Processing Unit (DPU), which reduces BOM costs, system power and improves performance. Wireless communications companies are leveraging eFPGA to make their base stations more flexible in order to allow for customization and real-time updating of protocols and algorithms. Aerospace companies such as Boeing are even using it to enable their aerospace systems to be smaller, lighter and consume less power. The list of applications goes on and on – and also include applications in storage, AI, and MCU-IoT. All of these use cases – and more I have not mentioned – are all benefiting from the flexibility, power savings and reduced cost that eFPGA provides.
With the eFPGA market expanding, so too are customer engagements. Below are a few real-life examples of companies that Flex Logix has worked with or are working with now to implement eFPGA:
As highlighted above, eFPGA has matured to the point that it is being widely used in the industry. Its flexibility, ability to support more compute parallelism and end-user customization post-silicon is becoming a mainstream requirement for systems companies. As we head into the second half of 2021, the need for reconfigurability in SoCs will continue to increase along with the rapidly rising cost of developing SoCs especially at advanced process nodes. To be economical, SoC providers need to generate a lot of revenue and designers can achieve this if they have reconfigurability that allows the SoC to be used in a wider range of applications.
Because eFPGAs are scalable from 100 to 1Ms of LUTs, SoC designers can select exactly how much reconfigurability they need, and in many cases can distribute multiple eFPGAs throughout the chip, locating them where needed rather than in a single large block. In addition, some customers that use power-hungry FPGAs in their systems can now integrate them into SoCs for lower cost, lower power and higher speed.
Flex Logix’s EFLX® eFPGAs have are designed with standard cells and competitive in terms of logic density with traditional FPGAs, but offer lower cost and fast time to market. These are significant advantages in today’s competitive chip design market where costs have skyrocketed and chips have become extremely complex.
Learn more about eFPGAs at Flex-logix.com/eFPGA/
System companies are taking a more proactive role in codesigning their hardware and software roadmaps, so it’s no surprise that…
Expanding the possibilities in the processor subsystem.
With the eFPGA now readily available in many process nodes from multiple suppliers, Flex Logix offers predictions on what we can expect to see around eFPGA development and use cases in 2022 and beyond.
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