reaching Milestone, Mainland's first FPGA startup

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    antimatter Banned Idiot

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    断 FPGA市场冲出本土黑马
    出自:电子工程专辑 编辑:俞文杰


    全球FPGA市场近年来一直都处于非常稳定的竞争态势,不过这种状态可能很快就要被一家叫做Agate Logic的中国公司打破了。有鉴于中国市场的快速发展、FPGA本身在半导体产业链中的独特作用、中国政府的大力支持,并凭借完全自主自主知识产权的APGA (Adaptable Programmable Gate Array,灵活可编程门阵列) 以及由此带来的CSoC技术,这家企业相信,他们将会在FPGA市场上大有作为。

    中国第一家

    中国半导体消费市场近年来一直都保持着较高的增长速度,虽然在金融危机的打压下,这种增长在2008年稍显疲态,然而与整个大环境不太一致的是,FPGA市场依然生机勃勃。“中国FPGA市场规模已经达到25亿元,‘十一五’期间该市场仍将保持年均30%以上的增长。中国尤其是位于北京的许多重要研究部门急需也长期需要FPGA用于国家安全和重点应用,比如航天航空,信息安全,知识产品保护等。”Agate Logic公司高级营销经理蒋伟斌表示。

    正是在上述这样的外界条件下,Agate Logic应运而生。据介绍,这家总部位于清华科技创业园的初创公司成立于2005年7月,主要依托于清华大学科技园孵化器和创投资本。虽然成立只有短短三年时间,但是却已经在北京、上海和美国硅谷等地都设立了研发和销售中心,员工总数达到80余人,其中研发与技术人员占到75%以上。 “我们是中国第一家FPGA供应商。也是全球唯一家提供全套自主知识产权FPGA和EDA工具的可编程逻辑产品供应商。”蒋伟斌表示。

    内嵌硬核的FPGA

    简单地说,Agate Logic所谓的APGA就是一种融合了两种技术的可编程逻辑产品——它将FPGA和MPGA(掩模可编程逻辑器件)/ASIC技术结合在一起,从而令工程师在利用到可编程特性的同时还能获得可重构上的优势。

    “许多客户目前都有将8051等MCU内核同FPGA集成在一起的需求。”来自Agate Logic的FAE经理王岳解释,“不过由于各种原因,大部分客户仍然采用FPGA+MCU两颗芯片的方式来满足这种需求。今天,借助APGA技术我们终于能够在单颗芯片上实现这一点——在Agate Logic的芯片中集成了高性能8051内核和FPGA逻辑,并通过灵活的互连资源将两者的优势结合在一起。”

    王岳称,Agate Logic的产品主要有三个卖点:首先,无论是FPGA还是MPGA,目前在售的产品大都是出自美国供应商,其他国家可商用的该类产品几乎没有。“以Xilinx和Altera为首的四大美国FPGA厂商占据了全球份额的99%,但是在需要的时候,许多中小客户却不能及时得到他们的支持。”他说,“作为一家本土厂商,我们能够给予客户这样的贴身关怀。”其次,与有市场上FPGA厂商只专注于芯片本身,而应用厂商则潜心于应用,与此不同的是,Agate Logic的定位比较模糊。“可以说我们是介于两者之间。而且在应用上我们还有清华大学”最后,一般的FPGA只有高端产品才会集成MCU内核,中低端产品用户并不能享受到这一技术带来的便利。“我们不仅能够帮助他们在单芯片上集成包括FPGA、MPGA、MCU、DSP以及其他IP在内的各种内核,除了减少PCB板尺寸外,还将省去电磁兼容等问题,而后者对于军工应用来说至关重要。”

    王岳表示,可以将APGA看成一个包含了嵌入式软/硬核的FPGA。事实上,这正是其CSoC(Configurable System on Chip)技术的基础。顾名思义,CSoC就是由处理器、存储器以及I/O接口组成的可重构片上系统。蒋伟斌称,借助APGA芯片以及Agate Logic提供的Primace开发工具,客户可以利用第三方IP和工具来实现其自己的CSoC方案。

    正如蒋伟斌所言:“我们的目标不仅仅是盯住目前的FPGA/CPLD 市场,还会紧盯DSP、MCU,依靠APGA技术帮助客户实现SoC。”

    更低成本、更快速度

    采用Agate Logic的产品能够为客户带来哪些好处?蒋伟斌表示:“和竞争对手比,我们可以以较低的成本、快速帮助客户拥有自己的ASIC芯片。”

    “Agate Logic的APGA芯片可以帮助用户有效克服IC产业发展面临的困难。”蒋伟斌说,首先,客户能够拥有极低的NRE (开发初始费),而且无最小订货量限制。其次,传统的ASI或者ASSP需要1年或以上的开发周期,而采用APGA可以在几周内可拥有自己的ASIC或ASSP芯片,从而大大加快产品的上市时间。最后,如果客户端订货量增加, APGA的MP产品也能够帮助客户大幅降低成本、功耗,提高性能和可靠性。“总之,系统设计者能获得一个满足各种应用的需求,且和ASIC/ASSP价格相当、性能满足要求的可配置逻辑方案。”

    以中低端为基础,向高端进军

    Agate Logic三年的耕耘已经结出硕果。除了有多个产品推出外,目前也已经有客户推出基于AFPGA的终端产品。此外,在产品路景图上Agate Logic也有了长远的打算。

    蒋伟斌介绍,Agate Logic目前已经推出AG1F4、AG1F4N、AG1F1系列、FP+MP系列等多个产品。其中前两者拥有4096个4-input FPGA 逻辑单元、内嵌4Mb Flash、带有72Kb (8x9Kb)可配置DPRAM和2个PLL,核电压1.2V,可编程I/O电压支持LVCMOS/LVTTL 3.3V,支持2 mA/4 mA/8 mA/12 mA/16 mA驱动电流。而AG1F1则拥有1024个4-input FPGA 逻辑单元、内嵌8位高性能工业级MCU和1Mbit OTP、带有18Kb (2X9Kb) 可配置DPRAM和1个PLL,核电压1.2V,可编程I/O电压支持LVCMOS/LVTTL 3.3V/2.5V/1.8V,并提供5V 输入电压 tolerance,支持2 mA/4 mA/8 mA/12 mA/16 mA驱动电流。而FP+MP系列则同时提供16k FPGA和16K MPGA 逻辑单元,是一款高灵活性和低成本的理想解决方案,除了内嵌高性能8051、提供多协议可配置的IO以及4个独立的PLL外,还提供576bits快速双端口DPRAM+56KBytes 内嵌式RAM。
    已经有不少客户采用了Agate Logic的产品用于产品升级或换型。在蒋伟斌出具的应用案例中,原先采用的Altera、Xilinx、Lattice、Actel等厂商的FPGA都被Agate Logic的产品所替代。而其中的应用也囊括了步进电机控制、LCD驱动控制、数据传输、LED控制卡、微型打印机以及其他工业应用。

    可以看出,Agate Logic目前所针对的市场还主要是中低端应用。不过该公司已经在积极的向高端市场进军。2009年7月,该公司并购了美国CSwitch公司,蒋伟斌称,这将会帮助他们进入光通信等高端FPGA应用领域。

    FPGA market break out of the local dark horse
    From: Electronic Engineering Times Editor: Shu Wenjie


    FPGA market in recent years the world has been very stable competitive situation, but this state may soon be a Chinese company called Agate Logic broken. In view of the rapid development of the Chinese market, FPGA itself in the semiconductor industry's unique role in the chain, the Chinese government's strong support, and with completely independent intellectual property rights APGA (Adaptable Programmable Gate Array, a flexible programmable gate arrays), and by the This brings CSoC technology, which companies believe that they will be able to accomplish much in the FPGA market.

    China's first

    China's semiconductor consumption market in recent years have been maintained relatively high growth rate, although the pressure from the financial crisis, this growth in 2008 slightly flagging, however, is not consistent with the entire environment is, FPGA market is still life exuberant. "China's FPGA market has reached 2.5 billion yuan, 'Eleventh Five-Year' during which the market will continue to maintain an average annual growth of more than 30%. Is located in Beijing, China, in particular a number of important research need is also long-term needs for national security and the FPGA key applications such as aerospace, information security, intellectual protection. "Agate Logic, senior marketing manager, said Jiang Weibin.

    It is in the above-mentioned external conditions, such as, Agate Logic came into being. According to reports, this headquarters is located in Tsinghua Science Park Venture start-up company was founded in July 2005, mainly relying on the Tsinghua Science Park incubator and venture capital. Although established for only a short period of three years, but has been in Beijing, Shanghai and Silicon Valley and other places have set up R & D and sales centers, a total of more than 80 employees, including R & D and technical staff account for 75%. "We are China's first FPGA supplier. Is the world's only independent intellectual property rights to offer a full range of EDA tools for FPGA and programmable logic suppliers." Jiang Weibin said.

    Embedded hard-core FPGA

    To put it simply, Agate Logic of so-called APGA is a fusion of two technologies of programmable logic products - it would FPGA and MPGA (Mask Programmable Logic Device) / ASIC technologies together, so that engineers take advantage of programmable features while access to reconstruct advantage.

    "Many customers now have the 8051 and other MCU core with FPGA integration needs." Agate Logic from the FAE manager at Wang Yue explained, "but for various reasons, most customers still use the two-chip FPGA + MCU way to meet this demand. Today, with APGA technology we can finally get a single chip to achieve this - in the Agate Logic's chip integrates a high-performance 8051 core and the FPGA logic, and through a flexible interconnect resources will be combines the advantages of both. "

    Wang Yue said, Agate Logic's products has three main selling points: first, whether it is FPGA or MPGA, the products currently available are mostly from U.S. suppliers, other countries, such products can be little commercial. "To Xilinx and Altera, led by the four major U.S. share of the FPGA vendors accounted for 99% of the world, but when needed, and many medium and small customers are unable to get their support." He said, "As a local vendor, we are able to give Customers such close attention. "Secondly, there is a market on the FPGA vendors only focus on the chip itself, but application vendors are concentrated on the application, and this difference is that, Agate Logic positioning rather ambiguous. "You could say we are somewhere in between. But also in the applications we have, Tsinghua University" Finally, the general FPGA-only high-end products will integrate MCU core, the low-end product users and can not enjoy this technology brings convenience. "We not only can help them in a single chip, including FPGA, MPGA, MCU, DSP, and other IP, including a variety of core, in addition to reducing PCB board size, also eliminating the need for electromagnetic compatibility and other issues, which for the military is critically important. "

    Wang Yue said that APGA can be seen as one that contains an embedded soft / hard-core FPGA. In fact, this is the CSoC (Configurable System on Chip) technology base. As the name suggests, CSoC is from the processor, memory and I / O interface, composed of reconfigurable system on a chip. Jiang Weibin said, with the help APGA chips and Agate Logic provides Primace development tools, customers can use third-party IP and tools to achieve their own CSoC program.

    Just as Jiang Weibin said: "Our goal is not just stare at the current FPGA / CPLD market, but keep a close eye DSP, MCU, relying on APGA technology to help customers achieve SoC."

    At a lower cost, faster speed

    Agate Logic's products can be used for customers What are the benefits? Jiang Weibin, said: "and competitors than we can in order to lower costs, quick to help customers to have their own ASIC chips."

    "Agate Logic of APGA chip can help users to overcome the difficulties facing the development of IC industry." Jiang Weibin said that first, the customer can have very low NRE (development of the initial fee), but with no minimum order quantity restrictions. Secondly, the traditional ASI or ASSP need a year or more of the development cycle, while the use of APGA in a few weeks to have their own ASIC or ASSP chip, thereby greatly accelerating time to market. Finally, if the client orders increased, APGA's MP products can help customers significantly reduce costs, power consumption, improve performance and reliability. "Overall, system designers have access to a wide range of applications to meet the demand, and the and the ASIC / ASSP price equivalent to the performance to meet the requirements of configurable logic solution."

    Basis in both low-end to high-end into the

    Agate Logic three years of hard work is already bearing fruit. In addition there are several product launches, the clients now also have introduced products based on AFPGA terminal. In addition, the King in the product road map Agate Logic has also been a long-term plans.

    Jiang Weibin introduction, Agate Logic has introduced AG1F4, AG1F4N, AG1F1 series, FP + MP series and many other products. The first two of which have a 4096 4-input FPGA logic cells, embedded 4Mb Flash, with a 72Kb (8x9Kb) can be configured to DPRAM and 2 PLL, core voltage of 1.2V, programmable I / O voltage support LVCMOS / LVTTL 3.3 V, supports 2 mA / 4 mA / 8 mA/12 mA/16 mA drive current. The AG1F1 holds a 1024 4-input FPGA logic cells, 8-bit high-performance industrial grade embedded MCU and 1Mbit OTP, with a 18Kb (2X9Kb) can be configured to DPRAM and a PLL, core voltage of 1.2V, programmable I / O voltage support LVCMOS / LVTTL 3.3V/2.5V/1.8V, and to provide 5V input voltage tolerance, support for 2 mA / 4 mA / 8 mA/12 mA/16 mA drive current. The FP + MP series is also available 16k FPGA and 16K MPGA logic cells, is a highly flexible and cost an ideal solution, in addition to built-in high-performance 8051, providing multi-protocol configurable IO, as well as four independent PLL , but also to provide 576bits fast DPRAM +56 KBytes dual-port embedded RAM.
    Many customers have already adopted the Agate Logic's products are used in product upgrade or change-type. Jiang Weibin applications issued in the case, originally used in Altera, Xilinx, Lattice, Actel's FPGA vendors such as Agate Logic's products have been replaced. Of these applications also include a stepper motor control, LCD drive control, data transmission, LED control card, mini-printers, and other industrial applications.

    As can be seen, Agate Logic current market is mainly aimed at low-end applications. But the company has been actively into the high-end market. July 2009, the company acquired the U.S. CSwitch companies, Jiang Weibin said it will help them to enter the optical communications and other high-end FPGA applications.
     

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