Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Semiconductor-IP directory for FPGAs indexes over 17,000 IP blocks and FPGA devices!

Today, I came across a very interesting story, which stated that Parallel Engines has launched the world’s largest semiconductor-IP directory for FPGAs. According to the company, the site --, indexes over 17,000 IP blocks and FPGA devices!

How does this help the global semiconductor industry? Most critically, customers can now search for semiconductor-IP and retrieve IP vendor datasheets, IP meta-information, and FPGA device configurations. Also, the meta-information includes IP interfaces, LUT, BRAM, I/O and embedded IP resources, costs and packages.

According to the release, Parallel Engines is the brainchild of its CEO, George Janac, Electronic Design Automation pioneer, founder of Chip Estimate; High Level Design Systems, and startup investor. “FPGA design has long been served by a disaggregated IP supply chain,” said Janac.

The next thing to do was to get in touch with George Janac and get his thoughts.

First, I quizzed Janac about the need for such a site. He said that today, most IP portals are really the outgrowth of IPs for ASICs and SoCs.

Janac added: “The FPGA IP market really has no central IP place of its own. Also there is a unique need in FPGA to combine both IP and devices. Much of what is ASIC and SoC hard-IP (I/O, PHY, memory, PLL, etc.) is really embedded in an FPGA device. Hence, the need for a specialized portal. Also, many ASIC and SoC suppliers do not sell in FPGA and vice versa.” Very interesting indeed!

If this is the case, why develop such a site now, and why not earlier?

Janac explained: “Timing is driven by the sizes of the new generation of FPGAs, especially the recent announcements of the upcoming 28nm FPGA devices from Altera and Xilinx, respectively. These device will put the FPGA devices two to three generations ahead in IC technology compared to ASIC. It means that more and more systems that were ASIC, could be placed in FPGA.

“Additionally, we are seeing more heterogeneous FPGA devices from companies like Actel. These have high embedded content for analog, and ARM cores. Finding this kind of IP and mapping to these devices needs a new approach.”

Giving FPGA designers visibility of semicon-IP choices
So, how will the FPGAIPDirectory website help the global semiconductor industry?

He added: “Our main goal is to give FPGA designers the visibility of what the semiconductor-IP choices and help them find the best devices for their applications. We also provide FPGA IP-vendors a place where they can congregate around and interact with users.

“There are approximately 17,000 parts in the directory from 300 vendors. We also list devices from Xilinx, Altera, Actel and Lattice Semiconductor.”

What's the roadmap ahead for this website? Janac noted: “Our roadmap is to provide a set of tools that can combine IP into a platform, and map it onto the most appropriate and cost effective FPGA device. This is our FpgaRFQ beta program that we have announced.”

George Janac and the entire team at FPGAIPDirectory need to be congratulated for this commendable effort.

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