Application Specific Integrated Circuits or ASICs are ICs designed and implemented for specific applications in various marketplaces. ASICs are very cost-effective if companies want to reduce their bill of material (BOM) costs and improve performance requirements. Generally, it is very difficult for a competitor to reverse engineer an ASIC because of the proprietary electronic components used to develop the device. If companies use discrete or standard ICs in their design, it is easier for competitors to develop knock-off products. ASICs are often the best option for products that need to have consistent logic functions throughout the entire product lifespan.
Unlike their counterpart, FPGAs or Field Programmable Gate Arrays are ICs that are built around a matrix of configurable logic blocks. FPGAs are field programmable, which means they can be reprogrammed to a specific application even after manufacturing. Think of FPGAs as separate microprocessors that enable electronic designers to reconfigure other parts of a device without affecting the other ICs. Both ASICs and FPGAs use hardware description languages (HDL) such as VHDL or Verilog to specify their design processes. FPGAs are great options for products that continually need to have their algorithms updated and features updated.
ASIC vs FPGA Comparison Table
How to Choose
When choosing between an ASIC or FPGA, it is best to ask what the end use application will be. If your application requires constant bug fixes, feature and design changes, and software flexibility, then FPGAs may be the right solution. If your end application requires high performance, smaller device footprint, and significantly lower power consumption, then ASICs are your best bet. Regardless of what device you choose, both FPGAs and ASICs are great solutions. The difference in choosing between the two often relies upon a combination of device complexity and volume production.
Bart Grabowski is the Sales and Marketing Manager at Sigenics, Inc. Contact Bart at (312) 448-8000 or by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sigenics, Inc. is a full turnkey ASIC supplier. We specialize in designing, manufacturing, testing and supplying “private label” electronic and microelectronic devices for the Aerospace, Medical, Military, Industrial, and Obsolete Parts markets. Sigenics offers full turnkey services to deliver manufactured product, starting from a client’s concept.