The field programmable gate array (FPGA) market is expected to witness a CAGR of 8.64% during the forecast period (2020 - 2025). Owing to rising applications across various sectors, such as aerospace and defense, automotive, consumer electronics, high-performance computing, and data storage, video and image processing, wired and wireless communications, FPGA technology is witnessing rapid growth in its adoption.
- Nowadays, FPGA is widely used in industries ranging from telecom to aerospace. Its advantage over ASIC, in terms of design change even after the product, has been deployed in the field has expanded the use of FPGAs. This feature allows the designer to upgrade from a remote location eliminating the need of fabrication from scratch.
- Another factor driving the growth of FPGA market is the demand of extensive computation in applications which gives a new direction to the FPGA industry. Moreover, cloud computing and data processing in data centers have emerged as a significant area of application for FPGAs.
- The rise in the demand for optimization in big data analytics is one of the primary drivers for the market. With an aim to execute operations in parallel to have the real-time performance, the leading search engines, such as Google, and firms, such as Amazon and Walmart, who derive consumer insights based on big data analytics, are increasing their dependence on FPGAs to make business decisions.
- Despite the technological advancement in FPGA, their designs are on average, 35 times larger than ASIC designs, 3.5 times slower, and consume on average 14 times more power than ASIC. Therefore, FPGAs have been reserved for low-volume applications.
- With the outbreak of COVID-19, the production of FPGAs have come to an abrupt end in China during the months of February and March, which influenced the demand of the product worldwide, and influenced the price as well. With the increasing number of cases in the United States and Europe, the electronics industry is under pressure due to the lack of supply of raw materials and products as the global supply chain is disrupted. The effect of diminished demand will be reflected in companies' 2Q20 revenues.
Key Market Trends
SRAM-based FPGAs to Account for a Significant Share
- SRAM-based FPGAs are configured with data logical cells in static memory because SRAM is volatile without power source. There are basic modes for programming, like Master mode (FPGAs study configured data from external flash memory chip) and Slave mode (FPGAs are configured by a master processor, which is dedicated via interfaces for scanning data).
- The popularity of SRAM programming technology is derived from the simplicity of its manufacturing process. The technology, which is two process generations ahead of other FPGAs, results in process advantage that provides higher performance, greater logic density, and improved power efficiency.
- The rise in applications of SRAM FPGAs in harsh radiation environments has increased recently. Programmable devices require reduction techniques for ensuring targeting memory, with user logic and embedded RAM blocks. The storage of SRAM help in configuring data with internal volatile memory cells, with distribution being done throughout the device.
- However, volatility is the major drawback of SRAM based FPGA because in the absence of power availability the entire programming will be lost. Overcoming these volatilities require external storage with application, where there is more power availability, as this helps in taking inputs from external storage devices.
China to Drive the Market in Asia-Pacific
- China is the major player in consumer electronics sector. With the increasing sales of these devices, specifically the smartphones, incorporation of FPGA in them is expected to increase over the forecast period. The smartphones sales value in China rose from USD 90.1 billion in 2013 to USD 152.3 billion in 2017.
- In addition to this, Chinese companies are investing in developing Artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The AI chip developers in China, including Hisilicon Semiconductor, Cambricon, DeePhi Tech, Horizon Robotics, and Bitmain have been aggressively planning new business strategies to compete against global first-tier chip vendors, leveraging assistance from the Chinese government.
- The Chinese government has recently announced a three-year plan to promote AI technology and industry development from 2018-2020, targeting eight major applications, including smart cars and service robots with several types of chips, including ASIC, GPU, FPGA, and CPU being used in them.
- Moreover, the Chinese start up company DeePhi Tech, with the support of technical expertise of the market leader Xilinx Inc., had developed AI chips using highly efficient FPGA-accelerated speech recognition engine, achieving 43 times the original performance compared to a CPU.
The nature of competition within the industry can be studied in two different segments. Mainly due to economies of scale and nature of the product offering, the market space remains highly contested and the cost-volume metrics favor companies that operate with low-fixed costs. Some key players in the Market are Xilinx, Achronix Semiconductor Corp, Intel Corporation, Quicklogic Corporation, among others. Some key recent developments in the market include:
- December 2019 - Microchip Technology introduced a new RISC-V-based PolarFire SoC under its Early Access Program (EAP) for low power. It is based on its PolarFire FPGA series. The series uses the same transceivers as its FPGA counterpart and offers data rates from 500Mb/s to 12.7Gb/s and broad protocol support.
- March 2019 - Xilinx, Inc. announced next FPGA for space applications 20nm Kintex Ultrascale XQRKU060 which will empower future-ultrahigh throughput applications which will also have the same die as its current commercial equivalent.
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