Designing in FPGAs meant that distributors had to support the product lines with new sets of design tools and in some case even silicon IP.
But it was always dealing with digital design elements – logic, processors, I/O and memory.
Now Altera has thrown analogue power technology into the FPGA mix with its decision to acquire Enpirion, a supplier of power converter ICs.
Altera has yet to talk in detail about how it intends to use Enpirion’s DC-DC converter system-on-chip devices, which have integrated inductors.
Maybe it will look to integrate the power circuits into the FPGA or programmable SoC device.
This will mean that distributors will need to change the way they sell FPGAs. Providing analogue design support for the power elements will become an important part of the traditional logic-based FPGA sell.
Suppliers like Altera and Xilinx are now positioning some of their FPGA lines as system-on-chip devices, with hardwired ARM processors surrounded by programmable logic, memory and I/O.
This in itself has been more challenging to distributors schooled in the art of selling simple FPGAs out of the box.
Altera’s decision to add analogue power elements to the FPGA to create a new level of system chip, has made the FAE’s task more complex and just that bit more difficult.