Now that we are two years into the technology recession, it appears likely that demand for technology will recover only slowly and perhaps unsteadily against a background of ongoing geopolitical uncertainty. In maturing technology markets, growth loses its linearity and reverts to a stepwise function, where dramatic shifts in technology and other drivers create inflection points that raise or lower the thresholds for creating markets.
From a design tool perspective, the most profound shift on the horizon is the emergence of the commodity FPGA as an advantaged platform for system-level design. The light has switched on for the major FPGA vendors, which are launching a generation of efficient, high-capacity devices that make programmable design viable for a vast range of products. There is now the potential to create high-volume markets for those devices, which will increasingly be seen by manufacturers as an enabling technology for designing products that will have to be smarter, smaller and/or able to communicate in order to compete.
Reconfigurable platforms are ideal for product designs that are increasingly software-driven. That has the potential to integrate the "soft" and "hard" design flows to the degree that design implementation can be delayed until later in the design cycle. In this scenario, true system-on-chip implementation becomes accessible to mainstream product design.
Despite the technology's advantages, a number of serious barriers block its wide adoption. Up to now, FPGA design has been largely isolated within the product design flow by tools that do not support integration of the rest of the hardware and software elements. The need for hardware description language skills has kept FPGA design the domain of specialists. Finally, utilization of embedded controller and processor cores-crucial elements that make a "system" intelligent-have been constrained by restrictive and complex licensing requirements.
Altium is committed to overcoming these barriers. We see our own path to continuing growth fueled by a dramatic shift away from both pure board-level and ASIC design methodologies and toward a new product-level design paradigm enabled by a generic hardware and software design environment. We call this new class of tool board-on-chip (BoC) design. We have invested deeply in the technologies-including FPGA synthesis, simulation, embedded software design and microcontroller/processor intellectual property-required to deliver this integrated design platform.
We believe engineers' adoption of the BoC design model will deliver dramatic reductions in time-to-market, no recurring engineering cost and market risk for manufacturers, allowing them to step up out of the constraints imposed by today's design options.