Low Cost and Ease of Use Drive ASIC Prototypes

By by John Blyler

The annual Chip Design Trends (CDT) “ASIC Prototyping and Verification with FPGAs” survey has revealed critical shifts in the prototyping priories of chip design and verification engineers. For example, one question from the survey inquired as to the leading decision criteria in selecting an ASIC prototyping system. Respondents could select as many answers as applicable. (see chart).

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In this year’s response, design and verification engineers clearly favor those prototyping systems that provid the most flexibility/expandability at the lowest cost while meeting the highest performance as measured by throughput speed. Easy-of-use and the completeness of the prototyping solution were also important.

These prototyping priorities changed slightly from last year (2009), where performance was less of an issue. Perhaps more instructive is the fact that ease-of-use and low cost where the two priorities that increased this most from last year. Such a change makes sense in a global economic situation that favors few workers doing more tasks and with fewer resources, i.e. at lower costs.

Finding the right balance between low cost, ease-of-use and increasingly complex chip designs that include significant power issues will be a challenge for both commercial suppliers and in-house developers of ASIC prototyping systems.

John Blyler can be reached at: jblyler@extensionmedia.com