Although FPGAs have almost no role in today's smartphone boom, they could someday find a place in the even more power-constrained emerging markets around the Internet of Things, Daane said. "What you could see over time is an ARM Cortex-M or -R" core in an FPGA. Today's low-end Altera Cyclone parts use dual Cortex-A9 cores. "We have nothing announced or plan to be announced soon, but FPGA makers could do it if it's a priority."
Don't expect an Altera-powered Pebble smart watch. "You are not going to wear a $1,000 Xeon or FPGA." However, security cameras and other industrial Internet applications could be a fit for FPGAs. "You have to have the right features and cost points. A lot of these areas are so specialized that the volume will not be there for ASSPs, so it becomes a perfect environment for FPGAs."
Using "aggressive process technologies and creative IP we can get there." A decade ago, "who would have thought you'd see FPGAs in cars or servers? We've certainly opened up markets no one ever thought of."
Finally, I asked about progress using Intel 14 nm process to make Altera's Stratix 10 FPGAs. He said it's still early days in the foundry engagement announced in February.
Altera has produced its first test chips in the Intel process and expects the first product tapeout in late 2014. A really good comparison of Intel and TSMC in important areas such as product lead times and customer satisfaction won't be available until sometime in 2015. "It takes a couple years to develop a chip with billions of transistors, DSPs, PLLs and transceivers running at various rates –it's a lot of complexity," he said. "From what I know," Altera is Intel's largest foundry customer, "but I suspect we won't be their last."
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times