Yes, it is undeniable the popularity gained by platforms, but at the pace technology changes, how would new platforms be developed without custom design? I have a proposition for NI guys: remove all custom design from current and future platforms to see how much growth they will experience.
Platforms are excellent enablers of complex technology solutions, but one of the key elements necessary for innovation and new design is the ability to quickly turn an idea into reality at the hardware level. In the past this was possible by hand wiring SSI integrated circuits in low pin count packages or using a solderless breadboard with jumpers. This approach is still possible but it has limitations. I have recently been using a new desktop programmable mixed signal ASIC chip from Silego that solves the low cost, small size and production manufacturability issues. I now have true desktop prototyping and real time emulation for less than $60 and I LOVE it!
The reconfigurable hardware from NI will definitely a big hit where ever we have a less effect of the hardware price on the total solution offered. It is going to be a very big market for the NI in next few years without any competition.
OK Janie Love, this is very painful for me to type, but I have to agree with your article: Custom Hardware Design is Dead. On the other side of the fence, I am going to say that custom hardware design is not dead yet, but it is in critical condition. As long as people are still using it, it is alive and kicking. It only takes an article like this and comments like the one from Eric Starkloff, senior vice president of marketing at National Instruments to motivate a team to get busy. We will see.