Re: what is ASIC

From: Pasi 'A1bert' Ojala <>
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2016 13:18:02 +0300
Message-ID: <>
On 29.07.2016 12:49, John Paul Adrian Glaubitz wrote:
> ASICs are usually much faster than any of the programmable type, require
> less power and are smaller, simply because they were specifically designed
> for their particular application. However, since designing a chip in die
> is quite expensive, it's normally only chosen when large numbers of the
> chip are expected to be produced.
Hi all,

With high volumes, the programmable logic arrays and FPGA's become 
faster and faster all the time due to being able to use tighter 
processes. Depending on the process you compare with, they can be even 

The older 035 and 025 technologies are pretty affordable, the starting 
expenses are not prohibitively high if you can integrate enough of the 
required external components and have volumes reaching 100000. Also the 
018 process becomes cheaper all the time.
> If a chip designer orders a design from a fab, they have to meet a minimum
> number of orders and pay for the chips upfront which means it's really only
> chosen when the designer can expect to be able to sell it in large
> quantities, e.g. an MP3 decoder.
There are plenty of steps required to bring a design into an ASIC and 
into production. For one, the design needs to be synthesizable VHDL or 
similar. Just any VHDL code does not suffice. The fab usually sells 
processed wafers, and the yield varies. You may have wafer test so you 
don't have to pay for the packaging of all of the failed dies, but if 
the expected yield is good enough you may just have final test for the 
packaged die. (If you lose less money scrapping failed chips than the 
wafer test would cost.)

The web pages of our company are not always the best to find information 
from, but the generic steps of an ASIC can be found from for anyone interested.

The example of mp3 decoder fits both well and poorly. Our company 
produces audio decoder IC's as standard products. While they are 
practically ASIC's to us, they are not ASIC's to our customers - they 
are standard products for them. Due to having a processor core in the 
product, patches, new features and even whole (small) applications can 
be implemented, so the customer can differentiate their product using 
that. (And can upgrade/downgrade to a different version due to 
pin-compatibility depending on which features they need.)


> Adrian

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Received on 2016-07-29 11:01:07

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