Not all companies have $10 million in their back pockets for the non-recurring expenses (NRE) today's ASIC design starts require. Fortunately, that kind of cash isn't necessary anymore, thanks to Lattice Semiconductor's latest line of FPGAs. In fact, the company's FreedomChip methodology offers an affordable path to high volume with a 30% to 75% price reduction path (see the figure).
Start with the ExtremePerformance LatticeSC or LatticeSCM (LatticeSC/M) device. Then, using the new model, convert to a pin-compatible FreedomChip device that includes your original design, along with scan logic and other dedicated silicon for testing purposes.
Finally, Lattice applies industry-standard ASIC techniques to comprehensively test the original design to ensure compliance. The result is your original netlist being implemented in a low-cost and custom-tested silicon with a typical fault coverage of over 99%.
Still not convinced? What if all of your I/O and block-level functions such as macro blocks, serializer/deserializer, and memory remained user-configurable and programmable after the conversion process? Most ASICs aren't designed with this sort of flexibility designed in to allow future tweaking of design parameters without a redesign.
LatticeSC/M devices were released to volume production last month and come with lookup-table sizes of 25k in a 1020-ball flip-chip ball-grid-array (FCBGA) package to 115k in a 1704-ball FCBGA package. The devices are based on 90-nm process technology, and the FreedomChip model supports all speed grades.
The only requirement to use the FreedomChip devices is to start with LatticeSC/M devices manufactured in flip-chip packages. After you have stabilized your design and are satisfied it is ready for mass production, FreedomChip equivalents can be ordered from Lattice with a minimum quantity ranging from as low as 1200 to 3600 pieces (depending on device density) with delivery in 12 weeks or less.
There is no added cost for the FreedomChip design methodology, as it is included with Lattice's ispLEVER tool suite. Lattice is asking a per-design NRE of $75,000, which is up to $9,925,000 off the NRE for an ASIC.