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Guest blog: Mike Santarini

3/30/2009 09:00 PM EDT
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re: Guest blog: Mike Santarini
sanjaac   4/3/2009 8:35:06 AM
Hi, Yes, it might be true that there is room for improvements in the EDA vendor side, and that will be very helpful for the FPGA vendors, since the FPGAs today are very complex devices. Still, one of the key factors that allowed for such a great adoption of the FPGAs is exactly that the tools costs is zero, or close to zero. For instance, not long ago you had to pay some $$ to get Altera's SoPC Builder and NIOS-II processor, now it is free. Xilinx's side, you still have to pay some (rather) low $$ to get EDK / Microblaze, but it is not too far the time when it will be given for free. Similar sotry for vendors like Lattice (Mico32). Even the synthesis tools are being free, and the simulators are becoming either included, or free, or low cost. FPGA vendors learned that they sell chips, not software, and that the way to get their chips sold in huge quantities, the tools have to be great quality but low cost. And keep in mind that for the FPGA space it is not the case of few designs in very high quantity (ASIC/ASSP model), but a lot of different, customizable, reprogrammable designs in not so huge quantities; still the FPGA vendor sells a lot (which is what they actually want). So, it is an uphill battle for EDA vendors, I would say. Regards.

DL Seth
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re: Guest blog: Mike Santarini
DL Seth   4/1/2009 5:04:33 PM
An interesting idea. FPGAs, as well as they're doing, are still hampered by being difficult to program. And, as Dave points out in his blog, FPGAs are no longer "seas of gates", but involve complex, shifting architectures, making synthesis an increasingly complex, sometimes buggy process. Certainly there's more room for innovation than Xilinx and Altera can fill. And, Xilinx and Altera, despite the recession, seem to be sitting on relatively large piles of cash. Too bad for Xilinx startups didn't start pursuing their tools several years ago. It'd be fire sale time now...

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re: Guest blog: Mike Santarini
dorecchio   4/1/2009 12:06:04 PM
You make some great points about the shift from ASIC to FPGAs, I blogged about it at http://bit.ly/wAs4 GateRocket is a good example of a new venture backed start-up in the FPGA space focused on Verification and Debug for the advanced, large and complex FPGAs with an innovative hardware/software approach to the problem. As Mike stated, ESL is also a great segment for new companies to innovate for the FPGA market and FPGA IP should also be included in the mix. The challenges that ASIC designers faced with the "design productivity gap" created a need for good sources of IP, the same is true in today's FPGA market. GateRocket has has a passion for making FPGAs easier to design and debug. More tools are needed to solve the current problems with the FPGA flow - FPGA vendors and users should support the new crop of companies and those who support FPGAs today. Dave Orecchio CEO, GateRocket, Inc.

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