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Programmable logic outpacing MPU industry, Altera exec claims

Posted: 08 Nov 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:programmable logic? pld? mpu?

Programmable logic developers are a decade ahead of the microprocessor industry, and use of the chip technology continues to rise, an Altera Corp. executive told a conference here.

The volume of logic elements being shipped is rising exponentially, and will continue to do so, Danny Biran, vice president, product and corporate marketing for Altera (San Jose, Calif.) told the SOPC World 2005 conference on Thursday (Nov. 3).

"Historically, FPGAs were far behind the memory, microprocessor industry, but this is no longer true as it is closing the gap with the other processing elements," Biran said.

Advances cited by Biran included the integration of billions of transistors on a single chip, reconfigurable circuit blocks, parallelism at all levels, special-purpose, low-power hardware engines for real-time signal processing, large high-speed global reconfigurable on-chip memory, high-speed interconnects linking cores within and among groups and compatibility with existing software.

Concerns about FPGA costs were justified, but the price-per-logic element is dropping 25 percent annually, he said, adding that this is key to FPGA adoption. "This is one of the reasons why there is a growing usage of programmable logic. The FPGA adoption rate is growing three times more than that of ASICs and twice that of ASSPs [application-specific standard products]," he said.

The growth of venture capital funding here will also boost FPGA adoption in India, enabling more startups. Indian software engineers can design FPGAs, making up for the lack of hardware engineers. This will help emerging countries like India where software engineers outnumber hardware skills, said Wai-Leng Cheong, regional sales manager for Altera Singapore Pte Ltd.

- K.C. Krishnadas

EE Times

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