Altera investigates legal implications of FPGA conversion rival

Altera investigates legal implications of FPGA conversion rival
Richard Wilson
Altera is looking into its legal position regarding the use of its FPGA design tools by Asic conversion chip supplier ClearLogic.
The Californian start-up is targeting Altera’s customers with a lower cost and lower power alternative to some of the FPGA firm’s FLEX8K devices. To do this, ClearLogic uses design data from Altera’s MAXPlus II tools to generate laser programmable gate arrays.
“It is not the technology they are using, but the use of data from our design tools that is the issue,” said Paul Hollingworth, European marketing director at Altera.
According to ClearLogic’s Richard Otsuka, despite the fact that 80 to 90 per cent of design wins come from existing Altera customers, there are benefits for the FPGA market leader. “I have secured 50 design wins for Altera this year so far,” he added.
For its part Altera is keeping a close watch on the start-up which launched its first products in January after 18 months of development. “We see them as a low level threat,” said Hollingworth, who believes that falling FPGA prices in the last two years has weakened ClearLogic’s sales argument. “Falling prices mean they can offer prices only 20 to 30 per cent less than ours,” he added. Otsuka claims ClearLogic can offer up to a 50 per cent cost and power savings on selected 8K designs and this is winning business in the FPGA to Asic conversion market.

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