I don't think FPGAs will ever rule the market

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EB: Do you think application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and application specific standard part (ASSP) will lose market share to field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs)?

No, I don’t think FPGAs will ever rule the market completely, but they are becoming more popular. ASICs and ASSPs have become expensive and FPGAs are being used as an alternative platform for product development. However, FPGAs are most likely to serve applications in sectors where volumes are not enough to invest $50–100 million in a dedicated ASIC or ASSP such as automotive infotainment, UPS and communications. In aerospace and defence, FPGAs are already being used universally.

In general, FPGAs will be used where volumes are up to millions of units and ASSPs will be adopted in sectors where volumes are in tens of millions of units. However, the number of applications having high volumes will decrease with time. For example, very high end handsets, netbooks and PCs.

EB: What is the significance of the Indian market for Xilinx operations?

Revenue wise the Indian market is still a small contributor for Xilinx, but it is a significant growing market. It supports lots of our other businesses as many of our tier 1 customers have design teams located here. Equally important is the intellectual capital.

EB: What is Xilinx India’s R&D contribution?

Our Indian R&D centre has doubled its human resource to 240 engineers in the last 18 months. It has the capacity to accommodate 450 engineers and our aim is to have 350 engineers at this centre by 2010 end. The Indian R&D team does across the board IC design, both physical and verification. While a large team is working on intellectual property (IP), another team is developing embedded software and chip design software around simulation. The Indian centre integrates all our R&D functions across the globe.

EB: What is Xilinx’s contribution to the Indian ecosystem?

Our success is tied to the success of the Indian ecosystem. Our platforms are now much more pre-packaged, supported and defined than before. As a stakeholder in the ecosystem, we are developing these base and domain specific platforms to meet customers’ market needs. Other areas of our contribution are investment in technology, training programmes, certifications, implementing and designing on the Xilinx platform and investment in IP development.

EB: Do you help your partners financially?

We help some of our partners in evaluating customers’ needs and market study. This is being done through investment in IP. Certain companies in India have been selected to work within targeted end markets and help them to add capabilities to our platforms. But they are not looking for investments. They want access to customers, technology and technical staff; knowledge sharing; and in few cases, some risk sharing. Our direct and indirect spending would depend on the growth of the Indian market. Our goal is to help the ecosystem become self sufficient as the market develops rather than serve as an ecosystem bank.

EB: What are your plans to generate more revenue from India?

In India, there are three types of customers—local original equipment manufacturers, multinational companies like Cisco, Juniper, and design houses, who serve global customers. Our direct revenue in India is less but the company’s impact is significant. So, we are targeting all the three categories of customers. We are the only FPGA company to serve US engineers working in India; we have a dedicated technical support team for them.

EB: What are the areas of applications or verticals you’re targeting in India?

We are targeting the next generation telecom, optical network, wireless base stations, broadcast and security (secure networking) applications. In aerospace and defence verticals, our target is the next generation telecom and supercomputers based on FPGAs. In industrial sector, we aim to have a market share in video application and Ethernet in factories.

EB: Please tell us about your future FPGA families?

Our future FPGAs are 22 nm, which are in developmental stage. The production of 22 nm will begin within next three to four years. Mixed signal blocks on FPGAs are also expected in the near future. Companies are looking for new packaging technologies and materials, but new lithography is posing technical and economical challenges to us.

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