With many existing applications, it can often be beneficial to replicate or even “reverse-engineer” an existing design and port it to an ASIC in order to introduce new functionality within a much smaller form factor while allowing backward compatibility. This approach can preserve a customer’s existing design investment while giving equipment a new and extended lease of life.
An ASIC comes into its own if an existing component supplier is making a process obsolete but there is still a potential long lifetime remaining for the end product. Here, it is possible to re-engineer a drop-in replacement to enable the continuation of the product’s availability.
There are also advantages from a customer’s engineering team perspective where the designers provide a specification that outlines functionality and input and output criteria and the ASIC supplier wholly designs the circuitry. The main advantage of this is that the customer’s engineering team is then free to concentrate on other core issues including production of the end product.
To summarize, here are some of the key benefits that an ASIC can bring:
- Higher integration
- Smaller footprint
- Lower power consumption
- Higher functionality
- Intellectual Property protection
- Ease of final manufacture
- Obsolescence guarantee
- Proven development and logistic routes
Going down the ASIC route
So how do you go about developing an ASIC produced specifically for your requirement? It’s not always straightforward to understand which components can be replaced and which functions can be improved or, indeed, newly introduced to a product under design. The right ASIC can also go much further. Size reduction is a given and lower power consumption is yet another benefit and even the all-important cost advantage can be a great side effect.
Incorporating a device that is specified, designed and manufactured solely for you adds two more clear advantages. It gives your product a commercial and technical edge over your competitors and provides you with obsolescence assurances during the lifetime of your product that you could not have when using standard components.
The diagram below shows the range of functions that can be incorporated into your ASIC. As you can see, the device can contain all the processing and memory capacity required to control and manage the task while signal processing and sensor interfaces can deal with converting information from devices in the “outside world” into a format understood by the digital one. Add to this the chip’s ability to make decisions based on incoming status information and then communicate the necessary action while using a fraction of the power consumed by the components it replaces, makes an ASIC an obvious choice for a great many applications. For more information on what can be included and to get an estimate of the resulting chip size please visit www.swindonsilicon.com/icbuilder