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Difference Between ASIC and FPGA

fpga_designASIC vs FPGA

The Application Specific Integrated Circuit is a unique type of IC that is designed with a certain purpose in mind. This type of ICs are very common in most hardware nowadays since building with standard IC components would lead to big and bulky circuits. An FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) is also a type of IC, but it does not have the programming built into it during the production. As the name implies, the IC can be programmed by the user as long as he has the right tools and proper knowledge.

An ASIC can no longer be altered after it gets out of the production line. That is why the designers need to be totally sure of their design, especially when making large quantities of the same ASIC. The programmable nature of an FPGA allows the manufacturers to correct mistakes and to even send out patches or updates after the product has been bought. Manufacturers also take advantage of this by creating their prototypes in an FPGA so that it can be thoroughly tested and revised in the real world before actually sending out the design to the IC foundry for ASIC production.

ASICs have a great advantage in terms of recurring costs as very little material is wasted due to the fixed number of transistors in the design. With an FPGA, a certain number of transistor elements are always wasted as these packages are standard. This means that the cost of an FPGA is often higher than that of a comparable ASIC. Although the recurring cost of an ASIC is quite low, its non-recurring cost is relatively high and often reaching into the millions. Since it is non-recurring though, its value per IC decreases with increased volume. If you analyze the cost of production in relation to the volume, you would find that as you go lower in production numbers, using FPGA actually becomes cheaper than using ASICs.

Summary:
1.An ASIC is a unique type of integrated circuit meant for a specific application while an FPGA is a reprogrammable integrated circuit.
2.An ASIC can no longer be altered once created while an FPGA can.
3.It is common practice to design and test on an FPGA before implementing on an ASIC.
4.An ASIC wastes very little material compared to an FPGA and the recurring costs are low.
5.FPGA is better than an ASIC when building low volume production circuits.


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