As the semiconductor industry continues its march towards smaller process geometries, it has to deal with exponentially increasing mask set costs. Customers who want to spin a 90 nm ASIC must pay upwards of a million dollars in NRE. In addition, they must incur significant engineering and design expenses, increasing the overall cost of product development to prohibitive levels.

ASSP companies have come under increasing pressure to weigh more carefully the risk/reward tradeoffs for introducing new products. ASSP vendors are being forced to develop only those “blockbuster” products that will allow a reasonable return on their large up-front investments.

Recent innovations such as Xilinx® Spartan™-3 FPGAs and EasyPath™ technology, when used in combination with a wide IP portfolio, allow ASSP vendors to address many more opportunities in a costeffective way while assuming minimal risks. In this article, we will examine how Spartan-3 FPGAs—together with their EasyPath counterparts—can alleviate some of the challenges faced by consumer electronics ASSP vendors.

Reprinted with permission from Xcell Journal / Second Quarter 2005. Article © Xcell Journal.