I met Frank Hansen – Regional Vice President Central & East Europe, Avnet Silica, Yulia Milshtein – Director of Operations and Business Development, Avnet ASIC and Pavel Vilk – Director of Engineering, Avnet ASIC, at Embedded World 2017 for a conversation about AVNET and their activity.
ASIC activity in Avnet Silica
Yulia: “Avnet ASIC Israel (AAI) is a fully owned subsidiary of Avnet, providing ASIC design and manufacturing services. ASIC abbreviation stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuit, it is a technology and methodology that enables customers an optimized and unique solution, designed specifically for them and owned by them. This solution is very attractive mainly to volume customers, due to initial NRE investment. ASIC solution is optimizing the unit price, area and power. We are the ASIC veterans of the Israeli market for over 30 years, with 350 successful projects; many of them include mass production. In few last years ASIC is becoming a strong trend, completely “re-inventing itself” almost a “must” of a certain markets, such as Automotive, Wearables and IoT in general, Medical, Industrial, end of life and many more markets that need low power, enhanced performance or that are highly cost sensitive. Avnet management recognized the opportunity in offering the ASIC Services across Europe, and decided to scale up the activity. Today, every Technical Sales person in Avnet can offer his customer ASIC full turnkey solution as part of the line card. This service perfectly complements the ASSP and FPGA offering of Avnet.”
Avnet Silica & ASIC
Frank: “In the Embedded World fair we introduce the ASIC team to the European market. I feel that the connection between Avnet Silica & ASIC is very strong. We also see a lot of customer opportunities for ASIC in central Europe”.
Yulia: “AAI is a service company; we don’t compete with our customers. Our purpose is to enable the fastest and most robust pass for the customer to mass production. We offer a holistic solution: from customer concept or spec all the way through architecture, logical design, IP selection and integration, including strong Analog capability, emulation and backend design. On the manufacturing side, we offer full productization and production management cycle: package development, test program and hardware development, prototype bring up and porting to mass production site, qualification and mass production management (independently or through Avnet channel). Customer can give us an RTL or alternatively his FPGA code or his board design and we will send a tested chip to his end customers. Ours design team is comprised of proficient and knowledgeable ASIC, system/CAD and analog engineers, who have expertise in all aspects of Architecture, ASIC, analog, FPGA designs and implementation. The Design Center, fully equipped with state-of-the-art CAD tools and infrastructure. We have an access to a broad range of advanced technologies for ASIC manufacturing, (0.18µm-14nm, low leakage, automotive process, embedded flash, special processes for sensors, SiGe etc.) We offer one stop shop from concept to tested chip.”
Trends in ASIC markets
Pavel: “Being a CUSTOM solution, and APPLICATION AGNOSTIC, the ASIC technology enables us to optimize our system in a wide range of applications in todays’ hot markets. As well, the markets today require very small footprint, low power and low cost unique and secure systems, and the ASIC is the best choice for these applications.
Automotive and ADAS car systems, Infotainment and Connected Car
Wearables and Hand-Held devices
IoT devices (sensors, metering, etc.)
Consumer products (AR/VR, Drones, Gesture Recognition)
Industrial Applications (Robots, Valve Control, Vision systems)
Bio Medical (Attached to Body or Wrist, Implantable sensors and broadcasters) “.
ASIC decision points
I asked Pavel – What are typical conditions to start ASIC project? When should customer ask himself about ASIC? His answers were: “It’s hard to generalize, but I will provide some rules of thumb. If the application is industrial I would check ASIC ROI (Return on Investment) starting 20K/Year, in commercial around 200K/Year. There are some additional conditions – unlike the FPGA ASIC is not field programmable, therefore customer should be able to freeze the design. Time to market is 1-1.5 years to mass production and initial NRE budget is required.
With ASIC you will optimize your product unit price, power, area and BOM.
Replace your FPGA as a cost reduction for mass production
Replace your board by a single SoC (integrate CPU, DSP, Custom logic, Memories, MIPI, PCIe, USB, SerDes, RF front end, LDO, DC2DC, ADC/DAC, NFC and CAN PHY, High voltage cuircuits)
Replace End of Life with a Pin Compatible solution”.
The synergy with Avnet Silica
Yulia: “ASIC is a high volume oriented product, in some cases customer that designed with Avnet based on FGPA or ASSP, will encounter price issue while ramping to high volume, or will need to optimized power or area that can’t be reached using FPGA. In this case, simple Return on Investment calculation can show that ASIC NRE investment will be returned in few years, and the saving in the long term will be huge. This enables Avnet to enhance its line card with custom devices and that allow maximum optimization and IP protection. A second scenario is System in Package (SiP) – miniaturization of existing customer board into a single package with several dies. Due to the ASIC mass production capabilities, we have a very strong packaging and test team and collaboration with Avnet enables access to bare dies of many vendors. This offering is unique, because any other SiP vendor has to find each die separately. SiP solutions usually very attractive for area saving and power improvement, their NRE is relatively low and time to market is fast. A third scenario is pin compatible replacement for end of life situations, when one of the vendors announces obsolescence for of his devices. In such case the longevity of the system is extended and secured, without going into risky and long redevelopment of the hardware and software.”
Value to customer
While the traditional ASIC vendors are locked to specific manufacturer and technology. Avnet ASIC Israel has a different philosophy – we do not bound ourselves by technology or specific vendor. We are fabless and our focus is to maintain very strong network of Tier One Partners: IP and manufacturing, we are an authorized design center for most of them. Such approach enables us to build a unique solution, optimizing the specific targets of the customer. Our technical pre-sale team is experienced in understanding the unique needs of the markets we focus on, analyzing the tradeoff between technical solutions and cost, finding the right recipes for each customer – Silicon technology, IPs, Packaging. Whether it is low power for wearables, cost reduction for Consumer market or reliability for Automotive.