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What is an FPGA Design Services Company and How to Choose one?

May 04, 2018, hardwarebee

There are many reasons to use an FPGA in your product. FPGA can give you a competitive edge, minimize your product size and make your product smarter. If you have decided to use an FPGA and you don’t have the skills or the resources to design an FPGA – you may want to outsource the design activities to an external company: An FPGA design services company.

 

Managing an outsourced FPGA development process can be an easy task if you have been lucky to select the right company. Otherwise, things can get complex and problems can occur even after you deliver the FPGA to the market. The financial stakes, after your product enters the market, can be huge due to product recall and loss of reputation.

 

An external FPGA design services company can help you reduce risk, minimise start up cost and get to market faster.

 

In this paper, we’ve assembled some guidelines on how to find an FPGA design services company to meet your requirements perfectly.

 

What is an FPGA design services company?

 

An FPGA design services company is a company that offers FPGA development services. The company consists of engineers that have experience in designing FPGA chips and can undergo FPGA development services for small or large FPGA chips.

 

What are the services an FPGA design company offer?

 

Depending on your project needs, an FPGA design company can offer: pre-design, design services and post-design services. The company can support either an entire project or a small block development. Here is a general list of services one can obtain from an FPGA design services company:

 

  • FPGA feasibility study
  • Architecture/concept design
  • Technology selection
  • Full FPGA development
  • Block/IP level FPGA development
  • IP integration
  • FPGA design simulation
  • FPGA design verification
  • FPGA debugging
  • FPGA and product integration
  • FPGA support & field upgrades

 

What type of tools and languages an FPGA design company utilizes?

 

Designing an FPGA requires specific expertise and full control over programming languages and development tools. The following is a list of programming languages and development tools available in the market today.

 

Programming Languages:

  • VHDL, Verilog and System Verilog

 

FPGA Development Tools:

  • Xilinx Vivado™
  • Vivado™ HLS
  • PlanAhead™
  • ISE®
  • MicroBlaze™
  • PicoBlaze™
  • EDK/SDK
  • Altera (Quartus® II, Max+Plus® II)
  • Mentor Graphics® Questa ®
  • NC-Sim
  • Verilog-XL
  • Synplify Pro®
  • Synopsys Design Compiler

 

What type of FPGA technologies the FPGA design house uses?

 

There are 4 different FPGA makers: Xilinx, Intel (Altera), Lattice and Actel. Although, technology-wise, their chips are quite similar, there are some difference – especially in the high-end market. Some FPGA design companies have selected their “favorite” technology and therefore, specialized in this domain and some have done designs in all 4 technology types. Here is the list of 4 FPGA vendors and the different product type per vendor.

 

Xilinx

 

  • 7 series Virtex 7 & Kintex – 7
  • Zynq
  • Virtex-E/2/4/5 & 6
  • Spartan-6
  • Sprtan-3/3E/3A/3AN/3ADSP
  • CPLD

 

 

Altera (Intel)

 

  • Stratix II, III, IV, Stratix V GT & Stratix V GS
  • Arria GX, Aria II, Aria V GX
  • Cyclone II, III, IV, V, Cyclone V SoC
  • MAX II & MAX V CPLD

Lattice

 

  • ECP3 & XP2

 

Actel/Microsemi

 

  • ProASIC3, IGLOO, Smart Fusion & Fusion

 

Conclusions and next steps

 

Designing an FPGA requires specific expertise both in FPGA development process and in your application area. It’s only through precise execution with right FPGA design services partner you will be able to assure a reliable, bug free solution.

 

It’s all starts with selecting the right FPGA partner.