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A New Era for Programmable Logic

Historically, several different architectures were developed and sold to satisfy the demand for logic in a programmable form, for example Programmable Array Logic (PALs), Programmable Logic Arrays (PLAs), Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLDs) and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs).   A few trends have developed in the last decade as new architectures and new devices have been introduced.

The first trend is an increase in complexity and performance to enable new applications. An example of this is the current usage of FPGAs to assist in the development of new Artificial Intelligence applications, where high performance FPGAs are often used as hardware accelerators.  As you might imagine, this trend of greater complexity and performance has also caused an increase in price for these components, and in some cases limited their use in broad market applications, especially in the consumer space.

The second major trend in programmable logic is the introduction of “Hard IP”, meaning the addition of other circuit types, such as processor cores, into the devices on the market.  

The last trend of note is the dominance of FPGAs as the most developed architecture over the last ten years.

Over time, these trends have resulted in devices that blur the line between SoCs and traditional programmable logic.  The devices sold today are often architected to solve specific end applications.  The choices of the density and performance of the programmable logic elements, and the choice of which hard IP are included, are determined to optimize these devices for a particular target application.   

It is not uncommon to see FPGAs today that include more than one processor core, as well as tens of thousands of logic gates.  The market success of FPGA companies pursuing this strategy, speaks to this being a great way to provide value to customers.

Can there still be value for programmable logic parts that are lower in complexity and simpler in design? In discussions with our customers, we believe the answer is yes, as we see there are still many applications where a small amount of programmable logic can be very useful, especially if the pricing is attractive.  Customers have confirmed there is an under-served market for low-density FPGAs.

To address this gap in the market for customers, we are introducing a new line of low-density FPGAs under the brand name ForgeFPGA™.  The devices in this family will be optimized for low power consumption The first devices in the family are targeted to have less than 20 µA quiescent current, making them fit well in low power and battery-operated applications.   Additionally, we will be introducing a set of hardware and free software development tools that will make it easier for first-time users to get started in working with FPGAs.  To further accelerate development, we offer a support structure complete with well-documented application notes.

Click here for more information on how to get started.

Read the press release.