SAN JOSE, Calif Xilinx Inc. rules the roost in terms of design technologies offered by FPGA vendors, Mentor had the strongest showing among commercial EDA vendors but Synplicity and Xilinx tied for top spot in customer satisfaction, according to the first ever FPGA EDA study conducted by EE Times.
Earlier studies covered IC EDA and a PCB tool study based on data collected from readers. This year, FPGA design tools were added to the study results. A summary of the PCB EDA study as well as the IC EDA study can be found on eeDesign.com.
A total of 213 respondents, including 167 from North America and 46 from Europe, participated in the study. Fifty-nine percent of respondents identified themselves as design engineers, 25 percent engineering management, 8 percent corporate management, 4 others, 3 verification engineers, and one percent CAD managers.
Respondents represented fairly equally all applications market. The largest group of respondents (22 percent) said they worked in the communications systems and equipment sector, followed by: industrial controls, test and measurement; components and ICs; computers and peripherals; military and aerospace; design consulting and services; consumer and automotive; medical electronics; and contract manufacturing and EMS.
The study found the average annual sales volume for respondents' companies was $78 million, the median size of design team in North America was three engineers and four in Europe. The study found that respondents spend an average 16 weeks to complete an FPGA design.
Twenty-eight percent of the design time is spent on functional verification, 26 percent on RTL design, 25 percent system-level design, 10 percent synthesis and 11 percent place and route.
The study indicated there are two FPGAs on average for each design project with the median for pins used in FPGA designs totaling 408.
The average speed of FPGA designs is 162 MHz. Fifty-two percent of respondents said their most current project runs between 100 to 299 MHz, 34 percent said less than 100 MHz, 11 percent ran 300 to 499 MHz, 2 percent 500 to 699 MHz, and one percent said their FPGA designs clock over 700 MHz.
The median ASIC equivalent gate count for FPGA projects was 400,000 gates, with five percent indicating they are currently designing with 5 million ASIC gate equivalent FPGAs.
Repondents cited accuracy and integrity of design tools as the biggest issue in FPGA design, followed by functional verification, timing closure, ability of design tools to handle complex designs, libraries and models, pin assignment closure, tool interoperability, design reuse, power management and equivalence of FPGA to ASIC functionality.
Most respondents said the primarily focus on place and route, synthesis, HDL simulation and timing analysis, floorplanning and schematic capture. The study also found that FPGA designers are using more advanced ASIC-like technologies and methods. For example, 31 percent said they use formal verification and 46 percent said they use signal integrity and C language system-level tools.
Fifty-two percent of users said their tool budgets will stay the same this year, but 26 percent said they will spend "much more," 11 percent said "more," while nine percent said "much less," and three percent said "less."
As expected, the study indicated that price discounting is rampant in the FPGA tools market, as most FPGA vendors are more than willing to cut design software deals if it means selling silicon. Fifty-one percent said they have encountered price discounting, with Altera and Xilinx cited as the biggest discounters, followed by Actel, Mentor Graphics, Cadence, Synplicity, Aldec and Quicklogic.
Among all vendors offering EDA products for the FPGA market Xilinx earned the highest ranking among respondents and swept all the major categories, including: best after-sales support; competitive pricing; best documentation; current technology leader; technology leader in three years; clear vision of future; most ethical company; best integration with other vendors' tools; well-managed company. Altera ranked second in a majority of these categories.
Synplicity ranked first among commercial EDA vendors in the following categories: best documentation, technology leader, vendor perception and purchase consideration and repurchase loyalty.
Mentor Graphics led commercial EDA vendors in serving the FPGA design community. Mentor beat out all other commercial vendors in a range of categories, including a clear vision of future.