Outsourcing FPGA Design Services? Get Free Checklist

30/05/2018, hardwarebee

Whether you are a start-up or an established company, investing in FPGA technology is a strategic decision. High-quality FPGA design services entails complex programming, tools, and long-term maintenance. Careful attention must be paid when choosing an FPGA design service company.


You would need to discover, identify, interview and analyze various companies in order to choose the one that fits perfectly to your project.


FPGA design services checklist


Forget about ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to FPGA design. Thus, it’s important to allocate the time to  perform a thorough review.


Here is a check list consisting of 10 topics to consider when choosing an FPGA design services:


1. How experienced are they in developing FPGAs?


The first point for selecting a potential FPGA design service would be to review the company’s overall experience as well as the specific experience of the FPGA designer. FPGA engineers should have skills in hardware programming languages, tools, FPGA technologies etc, etc. An ideal scenario is when the FPGA design company has done similar industry work and has developed similar FPGAs code before.


2. Is the budget suitable and meet targets?


Look for an FPGA design services that can provide quality work while staying within your budget. Perhaps this means you choose a smaller FPGA design services team, because they generally have lower overhead. FPGA design pricing comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s largely dependent on project parameters: programming size, complexity, integration and test.


3. How well do they understand your industry and business needs?


An FPGA design services with demonstrated experience with other projects in your industry is vital. To provide you with the best service, they would need to understand industry-specific requirements, trends and technologies – as well as finding ways to keep your FPGA design competitive and compatible to future trends. We wrote more about it here.


4. Do they have a quality system to assure bug free designs?


It’s nearly impossible to avoid bugs or write VHDL or Verilog code with no errors. Testing and verifying FPGA code on target PCB (or system) is imperative throughout the FPGA design lifecycle. FPGA designers should be conducting compatibility, performance and other type testing during development. Ask about their testing capabilities and whether they have FPGA verification or testing processes and tools.


5. Is it easy to communicate with the FPGA design company?

It’s not that easy to recognize and it is often underestimated. But your interaction with an FPGA design company is all about communication. Both technical and commercial messages are being sent back and forth — do you really understand each other? Is the FPGA design services company open and honest in their communication? Are they responsive? This can play a critical factor thought-out the FPGA design project especially in hard and critical times. We wrote more about this here.


6. What do you get at the end of the project?


Receiving a bug-free FPGA code that is 100% compatible is your primary goal. But there are other deliverables that you should be receiving. They are also negotiable. It’ super important that you receive the source code alongside the documentation and drawings. Depending on your FPGA roadmap, you may also be considering receiving the test code and PCB (if available) or anything that could help you modify and test the code to support future versions.


7. Ask for reference FPGA customers right away


Selecting an FPGA design services could be a long and tedious process. One of the evaluation point you should not skip is to interview reference customers. It could be that you have shortlisted the vendors but to increase the confidence level, ask for reference customers and talk to them about their previous experience with the selected vendors. You might be surprised with your findings.


8. Are they willing to provide long term support for fix bug and updates


One of the beauties in FPGA technology it that it can be updated after deploying the product in the market. Some vendors offer “bug-free” guarantee. This means that if there are any bugs in the FPGA, they fix it at own expense. Some vendors will propose a maintenance fee. In any case, you should discuss this with the FPGA design services company to make sure they are aligned with your future plans.


9. How good are they to protect your IP


There are chances that your company’s secret source will be implemented inside an FPGA and now you are planning to outsource the design to an FPGA design services company.  This means you would need to check how good the company is in terms of keeping your intellectual property safe and secured.


10. Start early because this can take some time


The process of finding and selecting an FPGA design house can take some time. Therefore, it’s advised to start 2-3 months before the kick off day. This will give you enough time to make an educated decision with no time pressure. Be sure to start looking at HardwareBee vendor directory for FPGA design services companies.

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