June 23, 2015, anysilicon
Application specific integrated circuits and field programmable gate arrays are used in a variety of different electronic designs. Both of these design types have their own performance barriers and advantages and from the perspective of any electronics designer it’s important to know what the differences are between these two technologies.
Understanding the limits and capabilities of FPGA VS ASIC can assist with electronic design and with making both complex and simple systems. Here’s some of the main differences.
FPGA’s are generally known to be the lowest speed, low volume designs with limited complexity. This isn’t true today with many of these technologies pushing over 500 MHz of a performance barrier. ASIC on the other hand features a high level of customization with the ability for full design to a company specification.
With FPGA technology designers can see a faster time-to-market because there is no need to produce a layout or design for manufacturing. This can also reduce recurring expenses for design and offer a simpler design cycle for any product. FPGA’s can be preprogrammed in the field and also produce predictable project values because there is less danger of failures from respins or issues from wafer capabilities not meeting design specifications.
The ASIC advantage is that it comes with full custom compatibility to integrate different domains including digital, analog and RF capabilities. This means that the designer can replace an entire board or a system with a single ASIC. By getting an ASIC that is tailor made to a company specifications one can cut down the cost BOM by not paying for extra hardware that you don’t need. ASIC can also assist with miniaturization.
Overall there are advantages to both types of technology but there are certain advantages for each type of technology that may best suit certain applications.