AMI American Microsystems aims to build up its FPGA-to-ASIC conversion business by taking licences on intellectual property (IP) from companies such as ARM Holdings.
ASIC conversion for custom chips on processes that have been obsoleted by other manufacturers and for FPGA now accounts for a third of the company's business, according to Harold Blomquist, senior vice president of worldwide sales.
FPGAs are now routinely incorporating hard cores. These range from I/O interfaces, such as low-voltage differential signalling (LVDS), to processors in the upcoming Excalibur and Virtex-II families from Altera and Xilinx, respectively.
As a result AMI is having to build its own IP and is moving to licensing cores in. At Electronica, Vince Hopkin, vice president of translation ASICs, said the company had designed a set of I/O cores for interfaces such as LVDS.
In common with their FPGA counterparts, they are programmable to support the different kinds of serial interface on the market, said Hopkin.
With the likely move by customers to use FPGAs with embedded processor cores, Hopkin said the company was now looking to license in key blocks of IP.
"We plan on offering an ARM core next year. We are in discussions with ARM and some other IP providers. We plan to support the ARM9 and the ARM7."
Hopkin added that AMI's ASIC-to-ASIC conversion business was increasing as other ASIC suppliers moved to newer processes and closed older lines.
"Obsolescence is becoming more of an issue. We keep processes for at least ten years and most processes are used for much longer than that. We still run 0.5um product. It is on newer fab lines but they have been converted to those designs," said Hopkin.
In a separate move, Blomquist said the company is planning to move to make standard wireless products, for systems such as wireless LANs.