FPGA is known as “universal chip”. From a technical point of view, it is a programmable product and can be used repeatedly without changing the hardware composition of the chip itself. Realize different functions on the same carrier according to market changes. It sounds beautiful, but it is difficult to develop. The manufacturers who can make FPGA devices must be the big ones, because semiconductor giants such as Intel and Ti have also tried to enter this market, but they all failed for one reason or another. At present, there are only a few enterprises that can mass produce FPGA all over the world. Xilinx, Altera, lattice and MICROSEMI are all familiar American enterprises.

FPGA is a semi custom circuit in the field of application specific integrated circuits (ASIC). Its advantages include fast finished products, can be modified, can correct errors in programs, and cheaper cost. Engineers can realize the desired logic by reconfiguring the logic module and I / O module inside the FPGA. FPGA also has the characteristics of static repeatable programming and dynamic in system reconfiguration, so that the function of hardware can be modified by programming like software.

FPGA chip market is entering a period of rapid growth

FPGA can complete the functions of any digital device, and even high-performance CPU can be realized by FPGA. FPGA is like a piece of white paper: when powered on, FPGA chip reads the data in EPROM into on-chip programming ram, and enters the working state after configuration; After power failure, the FPGA is restored to white chip, and the internal logic relationship disappears, so the FPGA can be used repeatedly. Using FPGA to develop digital circuit can greatly shorten the design time, reduce the area of PCB and improve the reliability of the system. Hard core CPU or soft core CPU is built into FPGA, which can not only realize digital logic, but also adapt to embedded development.

The total size of the global FPGA market has reached US $5 billion, of which China’s market share is nearly US $1.7 billion, accounting for one third of the global market. Analysts predict that the annual compound growth rate of the global FPGA market will be 9% from 2015 to 2020, and the global FPGA market will reach US $8.4 billion by 2020. At present, FPGA is in a market situation of accelerating growth, and the growth rate is much greater than that of other chip markets; At the same time, the average gross profit of FPGA industry is considerable. According to the analysis of market data, the average gross profit of FPGA industry is more than 60%. The FPGA industry also needs a larger market scale to attract more users. It is expected that with the gradual increase of FPGA output and further reduction of cost, its market share will continue to increase.

At present, the main application fields of FPGA are communication, industrial control, national defense and consumption. One of the most interesting change trends of FPGA in recent years is the continuous expansion of application fields.

In the traditional application market of FPGA, communication gradually realizes high-speed and complex protocols, while consumer electronics applications pay attention to low power consumption and low cost. In addition, FPGA is also widely used in medical electronics, security, video, industrial automation, voice network, semiconductor manufacturing equipment and home appliances. The application of FPGA in industry mainly involves four fields: motor control, industrial network, machine vision and robot control. Taking motor control as an example, the focus is to reduce noise, vibration and EMI, obtain higher control accuracy and reduce energy consumption.

At present, Xilinx and Altera still occupy an absolute monopoly on FPGA technology and market in the global market. The two companies have nearly 90% market share and more than 6000 patents; The remaining market share is mainly occupied by lattice and MICROSEMI, which also have more than 3000 patents. In 2014, the revenues of Xilinx and Altera were USD 2.38 billion and USD 1.93 billion respectively; In 2014, lattice and MICROSEMI (FPGA only) had revenues of $366 million and $275 million. The top four FPGA market leaders almost monopolize the market share of FPGA.

The market prospect of FPGA is attractive, but the threshold is high, which is unparalleled in the chip industry. More than 60 companies around the world have successively spent billions of dollars to try to ascend the FPGA highland, including industry giants such as Intel, IBM, Texas Instruments, Motorola, Philips, Toshiba and Samsung. However, only four companies located in Silicon Valley in the United States – Xilinx, Altera, lattice and MICROSEMI. The above four companies hold more than 9000 patents. Of course, the technical barrier constituted by so many technical patents is unattainable.

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