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Lattice-Silicon Image union opens door for FPGA, ASSP fusion

Posted: 05 May 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Lattice Semiconductor? FPGA? ASSP? Silicon Image? Intel?

Wawrzyniak recalls when HDMI first came out. Remembering "a lag" between the spec's finalisation and the availability of the actual parts CE vendors needed for their HDTVs, DVD players and AV Receivers, he said, "Their lost time meant lost sales."

USB 3.1 Type-C

USB 3.1 Type-C is one of the immediate and clear opportunities for Lattice. The industry's first single-chip USB Type-C port controllers were originally designed by Silicon Image and announced in March.

The Sil7023 has been designed to enable concurrent MHL and USB 2.0 support over a USB Type-C connector, while the Sil7033 adds the ability to support USB 3.0 signals over a USB Type-C connector for designs requiring USB 3.0 data connectivity.

Reitz called the USB 3.1 Type-C "essentially a superset of MHL." Silicon Image's IP on MHL can help make what's likely to become very popular USB Type-C products even better. It offers backward compatibility with a large base of MHL-equipped consumer products, she noted.

But there's more to this story.

As Billerbeck explained, "If I had the [USB 3.1 Type-C] IP earlier, I could be the first to market over anybody in the industry by about six months." More important, "Once we figured out actually all the programmable ways that people were using USB 3.1, because they're using chargers, smartphones, tablets, or all different devices, then, you could begin putting in a larger ASSP, not larger in size but a more cost effective version of that."

He explained, "You can make the choice at that point to do a hardened ASSP all the way across, or leave some programmability on there, thus giving some flexibility not as much as you would have with an FPGA, but at much lower costs."

Diversified customer base

Lattice and Silicon Image are both aware of the perils of relying on a single large customer for their design wins. Silicon Image, last December, had to issue a warning on a 10 per cent decline in its YoY in 2015, when Samsung decided to cut MHL from its Galaxy S6. Similarly, Lattice also saw its small-interface FPGA cut from Samsung's Galaxy S6, explained Reitz.

She also added that it wasn't only the S6 changes that hurt lattice, it was the decline of Samsung sales of S4, S5 as well in the late part of the year and into 2015.

After the acquisition of Silicon Image completed, Billerbeck said he spent a few days in Japan. "I did 16 meetings, 12 of which were at Sony but involving so many different product groups there, ranging from consumer guys to IT." With a broader customer base added by Silicon Image, especially in the consumer segment, Lattice is confident that its revenue dependence on Samsung will drop from the current 20-30 per cent to five to seven per cent by the end of this year.

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