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Solving Challenges in the Mid-Range FPGA Market

Solving Challenges in the Mid-Range FPGA Market
Posted 02/10/2023 by Gordon Hands, Sr. Director of Product Marketing

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In today’s highly competitive technology industry, being first to market can mean the difference between success or failure. However, getting to market fast comes with its challenges, particularly when it comes to system and application design. With the increasing proliferation of AI, Edge computing, cybersecurity threats, and automation, now more than ever, designers need the freedom to tweak and fine-tune their design’s throughout its development cycle.

The components system architects choose for their designs play an increasingly important role in how quickly they can develop and introduce their end product. This is particularly true when it comes to choosing between different types of processors.

In the past, when the time-to-market cycle was elongated, designers often used ASIC components. However, the high cost and fixed-function nature of this category of processors limits their viability keeping up with today’s rapidly changing technology landscape. By contrast, FPGAs can be implemented in designs and reprogrammed in-field in the event that quick changes are necessary. Additionally, FPGAs’ parallel processing ability make them incredibly valuable for offloading from a system’s CPU, enabling developers to pack more processing power into their devices and freeing up the power-hungry CPU for other computing tasks.

Innovation in the Mid-range FPGA Market

The FPGA market is segmented into small, mid-range, and large FPGAs based on factors like size, power, and performance envelopes that determine the types of systems and applications they can address. For many years, innovation in the mid-range FPGA market had stagnated. This stalled innovation made it difficult for system architects to continue pushing the envelope. This changed with the launch of Lattice Avant™ FPGA platform, which addresses key customer challenges around performance, power efficiency, and small form factor needs for their mid-range applications. In our latest LinkedIn Live panel discussion, we sat down with Ben Bajarin, CEO and Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, to discuss what’s happening in the mid-range FPGA market and how solving these challenges can help accelerate innovation across a range of applications for the Communications, Computing, Industrial, and Automotive markets.

Solving Challenges in the Mid-Range FPGA Market - Lattice Avant - Low Power FPGA Leadership

Addressing Market Needs with a Purpose-built Platform-based Approach

Prior to the introduction of the Avant platform, many mid-range FPGA devices available on the market were built using large FPGA architectures that were “waterfalled” to produce mid-range device offerings, whereby the underlying architecture remains the same but certain functionality is altered. However, because these architectures are largely designed for high-performance computing applications, this method results in poor optimization particularly in the areas of power and physical size. This issue is exacerbated by the increasing proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and the growing expectation that products will have AI/ML features. As devices continue to grow in complexity with increasing amounts of data to process, system designers told us they needed a truly mid-range solution that is optimized across the power, performance, and size trifecta to manage such workloads.

We designed the Lattice Avant FPGA platform from the ground up for power efficiency, advanced connectivity, and optimized compute to address the specific needs expressed by our customers. The result is a purpose-built mid-range solution that delivers up to 2.5X lower power, 2X faster performance, and 6X smaller size.

Using a platform-based approach, Lattice Avant will be the foundation for multiple new feature-rich mid-range FPGA families, enabling us to bring a steady stream of innovation to this portion of the market. The first FPGA family of devices, Lattice Avant™-E, is optimized for Edge processing applications across the Automotive, Communications, Compute, and Industrial markets. In 2023, we plan to introduce two additional Avant-based FPGA families to address even more of our customers’ needs.

Solving Challenges in the Mid-Range FPGA Market - Lattice FPGA Portfolio

Accelerating Development with Easy-to-Use Tools

Once a designer has opted for an FPGA-based design for their mid-range application, they’ll need the right tools. Lattice Avant leverages our existing suite of FPGA design and development software tools that are designed to facilitate each step of the process for long-time FPGA users and novices alike.

For those looking to further simplify their design process, Lattice also has a portfolio of application-specific solution stacks that combine hardware, software, IP, and reference designs related to a specific application. With a variety of solutions ranging from Lattice sensAI™ for Edge AI applications, Lattice Sentry™ for firmware security, Lattice mVision™ for embedded vision, Lattice Automate™ for factory automation, and Lattice ORAN™ for telecom deployments, our solution stack portfolio addresses a wide range of customer application needs today, with more planned for the future.

Solving Challenges in the Mid-Range FPGA Market - Lattice Avant Leverages Existing Software Solutions

To learn more about how Lattice is solving challenges in the mid-range FPGA market and how Lattice FPGAs can help accelerate your application development, contact us today.