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CEO of Xilinx Corporation, Moshe Gavrielov

Semico Research Corp. was privileged to have the CEO of Xilinx Corporation, Moshe Gavrielov, deliver a presentation on developments in the Programmable Logic market at our just concluded Semico Summit 2011 conference. Moshe made some very interesting points that are not necessarily always connected to the programmable logic market:

  • Today, FPGA companies are usually the first to move to doing designs on cutting edge process geometries.
  • Large ASIC and SoC development costs have cut down on the willingness of Venture Capitalists to invest in new, start-up companies since they need ever larger investments just to deliver their first products to market cutting down on the VC’s returns.
  • It is possible today to acquire a 20M gate, ARM-based SoC with multiple, high bandwidth SerDes channels that also incorporates $2.00 to $7.00 worth of Mixed Signal functionality: all for around $15.00 in volume. That part just happens to be an FPGA from Xilinx. In essence, a SoC with a programmable fabric built around it!

This last point is perhaps the most surprising in that, for the first time, an FPGA company would refer to one of its products as a SoC with programmability and not as a programmable logic part with some SoC-like functions included. In Semico’s opinion this has been prompted by the unrelenting march of many end markets towards requiring higher levels of complexity and the demands of the users of products aimed at those markets for better, richer user experiences.

As the old adage says, “it takes more to do more!” The FPGA market, and specifically Xilinx, has taken this to heart in the creation of new families of products that deliver much higher capability at the 28nm process node with a corresponding minimal increase in cost structure than in previous generations. Semico believes the main message to be taken from all this evolution is that FPGAs are leading the way towards delivering new levels of functionality at reasonable price points and thus opening the door for a host of new applications to surface in the markets. This is something sorely needed as development costs approach and exceed $100M for complex, first time efforts at the 28nm node and below.

The semiconductor industry is built on three basic premises: the development of amazing technology, the ability to turn the amazing technology into products we all want and can afford and the creation of even more new applications based off of the amazing technology, all to drive continued development of the amazing technology we all crave. Xilinx, and others, have met the challenges of these premises and are delivering great, timely products that are creating new demand and enabling new applications over the mid-term. With these signs to guide us, the future is indeed bright!


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