Profiling the top FPGA companies for 2013, Altera and Xilinx continue to dominate the market for general purpose programmable logic.
These two companies comprise approximately 90% market share (Xilinx 47%, Altera 41%) in 2012 with combined revenues in excess of $4.5B and a market cap over $20B.
Comparing this to the chart at the left showing the market in 2010 provides a quick overview of the changes in the last few years.
While revenues have been relatively flat in recent quarters, it’s expected that the programmable logic sector will be seeing growth towards the end of the year. All companies in this market, along with their associated foundry partners, have continued to invest heavily for new technologies and manufacturing.
Related Article – A Primer On Programmable Logic For FPGA, CPLD and SOC
The top FPGA companies for 2013, in alphabetical order:
Founded in 2004, this privately held company is one of the emerging suppliers for specialized, high end programmable logic. Their “Speedster22i” family of SRAM based FPGA have peak performance up to 1.5 GHz and densities up to 1.7 million effective LUTs. Like most FPGA companies, Achronix is a fabless semiconductor supplier and its parts are built with Intel foundry services using Intel’s 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate FinFET process.
Related Article – Achronix Announces Release Of Speedster22i High Performance FPGA
Celebrating 30 years of innovation, Altera has wide and deep portfolio of programmable logic. Their current products include FPGA, CPLD and SOC. The “Stratix” Series is their high end FPGA family. In the mid-range is their “Arria” Series, and the “Cyclone” Series rounds out their low cost offering.
Cyclone IV FPGA Dev Board – $49.99
Variations of both the “Arria” and “Cyclone” are available as SOC with integrated hard silicon core processors.
Interestingly, Altera is using the same Intel foundry for their high performance devices as Achronix.
Parts are available through both Arrow and Digi-Key.
Atmel uses slightly different terminology to describe their devices, referring to their “EPLD” (Electrically Programmable Logic Device) product line as comprising simple programmable logic devices (SPLD) and the higher density complex programmable logic devices (CPLD).
For those familiar with the original “GAL” and “PAL” products from Intel and AMD, the SPLD product family consist of industry standard 16V8 and 22V10s in a variety of voltage and power-saving options.
With their ATF15xxAS/ASL/ASV/ASVL CPLD family, Atmel also provides a second source of offers pin-compatible supersets of the earlier Altera 7000 and 3000 series devices.
Their FPGA family consists of the Mature AT6000 Series and the AT40KAL Series, which they call FPSLIC (Field Programmable System Level Integrated Circuit). “Mature” generally means not for new designs, and sometimes are obsolete or soon to be obsolete.
Parts are available through Arrow, Avnet, Mouser and Digi-Key.
e2v (QP Semiconductor)
e2v was founded in 1985 and today is the largest fabless semiconductor firm serving the military, aerospace and high reliability industries. They acquired QP Semiconductor in September 2008 to round out their “Life Extension Program” to meet the long life cycle of military programs. e2v offers a broad line of military DSCC approved CMOS Programmable Logic Devices (PLD) based on die from Cypress Semiconductor, Atmel and QP Semiconductor. PLD products range from the popular UV-erasable PALC22V10 and EE PALCE22V10 to larger density CPLD.
All e2v parts, including the programmable logic, are sole-sourced through Arrow.
Lattice has established itself in the low-power and low-cost market, while promoting their FPGA family as “High Value” focusing on best performance per unit cost. Their High Value line consists of the ECP3, ECP2, ECP2M.
Their CPLD family, also referred to as “Non-Volatile FPGA” includes the iCE40, MachXO2, MachXO, and XP2. The “iCE40” was released in March 2013 as a new ultra low power, small footprint device intended for portable medical monitors, smart phones, digital cameras, eReaders, and compact embedded systems.
Related Article – Lattice Announces iCE40 FPGA For Ultra Low Power Applications
They also offer a High-Performance SoC, which is aptly called the “SC (System Chip)”
Parts are available through both Avnet, Digi-Key and Mouser.
MicroSemi acquired Actel in October 2010 and expanded their portfolio of programmable logic devices. Their focus is on sense and control applications where reliability, security, and power matter. A main differentiator is in their anti-fuse technology which is qualified for both Military and Spaceflight. Their Space-Grade family consists of the RTAX-S/SL/DSP, RT-ProASIC3 and RTSX-SU devices. These are a superset of the commercial-grade MX, SX, SX-A, eX and Axcelerator devices. Their high performance FPGA family also features SoC microcontrollers in the ProASIC3 and SmartFusion / Fusion devices.
Related Article – FPGA Providers For Military, Aerospace And Defense Applications
MicroSemi also competes with Lattice for the lowest power title with the “IGLOO” devices.
Parts are available through Arrow, Avnet-Memec and Digi-Key.
Tabula was founded in 2003 with an impressive roster of former Xilinx and CAD leaders. Their most recent family “ABAX2” was Introduced in March 2010. They refer to their patented “Spacetime” general purpose FPGA technology as “3D Programmable Logic Devices (3PLD)”. With Spacetime, Tabula uses time-multiplexed logic and interconnect that for potential cost savings in high-density applications. More impressive, with Spacetime, reconfiguration of the entire chip takes place in less than 100 trillionths of a second, compared with seconds or tens of seconds for FPGA from other manufacturers.
As with both Altera and Achronix, the Tabula ABAX2 devices are fabricated using Intel’s foundry with 22-nm Tri-Gate process.
Parts are available directly from Tabula – please refer to their sales page to contact a Manufacturer’s Representative for pricing and availability.
Xilinx has the largest programmable logic portfolio in the industry, as may be expected for the first pure play company in the market since 1984. Their current FPGA families consist of the Series-7 devices (Artix-7, Kintex-7, Virtex-7) and the next most recent Series-6 devices (Virtex-6, Spartan-6).
Xilinx also offers Automotive-grade FPGA devices (XA Spartan-6 / 3A / 3E) and Defense-grade (Artix-7Q, Kintex-7Q, Virtex-7Q/6Q/5Q/4Q, Spartan-6Q).
In addition to the SRAM based FPGA products, they also offer Flash and EE type CPLD devices (CoolRunner-II and XC9500XL).
Most recently they announced their next generation SoC – the “Zynq-7000”. Xilinx claims that using the Zynq-7000 platform, developers can design smarter systems with tightly coupled software based control and analytics with real time hardware based processing and optimized system interfaces.
Zynq-7000 Development Board – $265
The Zynq Book – $35.00 (paperback)
Parts are available through both Avnet an Digi-Key.
Joining the Programmable Logic Pioneers Intel and AMD are a number of companies that are also no longer in the this market space. This is either because they were successful and acquired by a larger company, or they were not able to profitably make a business for this technology. The FPGA market has had its share of new entrants and exits. Below are just a few worth noting.
SiliconBlue Technologies – This company developed an extremely low power SRAM-based FPGAs with optional integrated nonvolatile configuration memory. A few years after starting, they were acquired by Lattice in 2011 for $62 Million in cash.
Vantis – A spin-out of the AMD product division, this was another early entrant into the market. In April, 1999 Lattice acquired Vantis from parent company AMD for $500 Million.
Actel – Long a dominant supplier to the military, defense and aerospace industry, Actel was recently acquired by MicroSemi in October, 2010 for $430 Million.
QP Semiconductor – They provided components for the military, aerospace and high reliability industries. They focused on EOL (End Of Life) and life cycle extension of existing product lines which their owner companies were no longer finding profitable enough to continue. Licensing the technology and acquiring the mask sets to produce ICs, this privately held fabless semiconductor company agreed to be acquired by e2v, in September, 2008.
Cypress – An earlier leader in the programmable logic market with their CPLD families (Ultra37000, Quantum38K, Delta39K, and MAX340) they have discontinued the entire product line with no plans to license or sell to another manufacturer.
Pericom – They made an attempt at combining programmability with special purpose devices. However, this was not successful as the major FPGA manufacturers began to incorporate both soft configurable and hard silicon into their devices. The Pericom programmable product line was discontinued.
Quicklogic – Their strategy was similar to Pericom for the programmable market – to focus on handheld CSSP (Customer Specific Semiconductor Product), rather than a general purpose FPGA. QuickLogic’s niche within the mobile devices industry translated to ultra-low power, small form factor packaging and high design security. Their programmable devices (Eclipse, Eclipse II, Eclipse Plus) were discontinued in mid-2011
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(Photo Credit – iSupply )