Chip Design by Focus Embedded

Key Points

  • Economies of scale will decide what target technology makes sense.
  • Building a single custom chip can have significant long-term cost and reliability advantages over building a circuit board full of non-custom chips.
  • Custom chips discourage piracy of designs.

Chip Design

Often in the world of embedded systems design there’s no reason to design a complex printed circuit board when much of the complexity could be contained within a single chip.  Thus, if you’re considering outsourced product development or hiring an electrical engineering consulting company, you ought to be looking for the ones that can design a chip (such as an FPGA, CPLD, EPLD, or PSoC) as well as lay out a PCB.  In the world of high speed digital design and low noise analog design, the more you can contain in a single piece of silicon (and the less you have to expose to the physically large and electrically messy world of copper traces on a fiberglass substrate), the better your end system will perform.
Integrating many discrete circuits in one chip also means you reap the benefits of:

  • The economies of scale – and corresponding parts cost savings – that come with doing a design in a common FPGA, CPLD, EPLD, or PSoC (and writing a suitable hardware description in Verilog or VHDL).
  • The reduced assembly costs that come with having fewer parts on the eventual PCB.
  • The lower incidence of field failure (fewer parts and fewer solder joints mean fewer things that can break).
  • All of the size and power consumption benefits that go with doing things in fewer chips overall.
  • The increased security that goes with putting key parts of your design inside a chip package where prying eyes and probing features can’t steal them.  (If you’re eventually building your product in any one of a number of countries notorious for lax intellectual property laws and enforcement, we can’t stress the importance of this enough.)
  • Increased likelihood that your device will eventually pass FCC Class B compliance testing (for “unintentional radiators” of electromagnetic interference).

Focus Embedded can design with FPGA/CPLD chips from Xilinx, Lattice Semiconductor, Altera, Actel, etc., and we can develop our hardware descriptions in the highly portable Verilog and VHDL hardware description languages.  We’re exceedingly careful to give our customers the greatest number of options for porting their designs to other chip platforms so they’re not backed into a corner either on price or parts availability.
Currently Focus Embedded is a Lattice Semiconductor “LEADER” design partner and a factory-approved engineering design services provider under the Cypress Semiconductor Design Partner Program.
Whether you have need of FPGA/CPLD development in VHDL/Verilog, Cypress PSoC design, or simply general electronic product design and development (perhaps with the eventual goal being designing an ASIC), let us see if there’s a way we streamline everything from your glue logic to the brains of your PWM motor control system to the bridge logic in your switching power supply design in a single chip.