Wow! I have to admit that I'm impressed. I just discovered that the folks at Lattice Semiconductor have sold more than a billion FPGAs over the course of the past 10 years (they say that this is approximately four times the number shipped by their competitors over the same period of time).
In the case of Lattice's ultra-low-density (ULD) iCE FPGAs -- which are based on technology acquired from SiliconBlue -- they are currently selling more than a million units a day. Furthermore, they say this number is growing day-by-day, which means they will have shipped another billion units in around three years' time.
Lattice is firmly focused on the mass market, which presents very different technology challenges to the high end. Medium to high-density FPGAs also come with high power consumption, high cost, and large size; these devices are typically associated with thousand-unit markets. By comparison, Lattice is targeting the low-density (milliwatt power, low cost, small package) million-unit markets and the ultra-low-density (microwatt power, sub-dollar cost, tiny package) 100 million-unit markets. Quite apart from anything else, this means Lattice has to have an organization that's designed to deliver not thousands or tens of thousands, but millions of units each day.
As Brent Przybus, senior director, Product and Corporate Marketing, told me:
Applications like the Internet of things are simply not going to happen with programmable devices that consume power measured in multiples of watts. The industry needs low-cost, small form factor devices that consume only milliwatts or microwatts.
All of which leads us to today's news, which is that Lattice has just introduced a new family of FPGAs called the MachXO3 Family (click here to see the press release). These devices boast large numbers (up to 540) of general-purpose inputs and outputs (GPIO) at only 1 cent per I/O. They leverage emerging standards with integrated MIPI, PCIe, and GbE to simplify interfacing. They implement more functionality in less space by leveraging 0.4mm pitch WLCSP (wafer-level chip-scale package) technology to deliver the smallest size packages. And they do all this while consuming only microwatts of static power and milliwats of active power.
One of the major requirements in many of today's designs is for bridging solutions. Their high pin count, inbuilt interface functions, small size, and low power consumption makes MachXO3 FPGAs ideal for these applications. For example, consider a host processor with MIPI outputs that is required to drive an LVDS-based display as illustrated below:
Alternatively, the host processor may be capable of driving only LVDS signals, while the display requires MIPI. Once again, a MachXO3 provides an ideal bridging solution as illustrated below:
An example of an advanced automotive system might be driver assistance functionality, which requires data from multiple sensors to be accessed and processed as illustrated below:
Another example would be a wired communications system requiring integrated GbE and PCIe interfaces along with instant-on and hot-swap capabilities as illustrated below:
The MachXO3 family is applicable to a wide range of markets and applications, including consumer electronics, computers and storage systems, wireless and wired communications systems, automotive systems, and industrial control systems.
The Early Access program is open now; design software and production samples are scheduled for the end of 2013. Pricing will be less than $1 per unit in high volume. Click here to learn more about Lattice’s New MachXO3 FPGA family.