Structured ASICs may be most advantageous choice based on price and flexibilty.
BOSTON, MA -- At lunch today, I attended the ESC "Disruption Zone," where I heard a presentation from eASIC. The company makes structured ASICs, which offer ASIC-like performance, unit cost and power with FPGA-like NRE and turn-around. I find the technology particularly appealing for consumer media applications. With a structured ASIC, designers can quickly respond to changing interface requirements for mass storage, network connectivity, etc. It's possible to do the same thing with FPGAs, but FPGA's high unit costs make this option less appealing. Off-the-shelf processors, such as DSPs, have lower unit costs, but these chips can't respond quickly to changing interface requirements.
Kenton Williston is the site editor on the DSP DesignLine. You can catch his blogs at www.dspdesignline.com/blogs/ and may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.