Intel to Purchase eASIC to Expand Programmable Solutions

Intel is acquiring eASIC, a 120-person custom chip company in Silicon Valley, to help boost its Programmable Solutions Group. The company stated that, “FPGAs [field programmable gate arrays] are experiencing expanding adoption due to their versatility and real-time performance,” and that “eASIC has a proven, 19-year success record … [and its] addition … will help us meet customers’ diverse needs of time-to-market, features, performance, cost, power and product life cycles.” Terms of the deal were not revealed.

According to ZDNet, Intel stated that, in the future, it plans to “architect a new class of programmable chip that leverages Intel’s Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) technology, combining Intel FPGAs with structured ASICs in a system in package solution.”

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“The marriage of the eASIC technology with IP and capabilities of Intel will allow the ubiquitous deployment of this proven structured ASIC product into a wide breadth of exciting end applications and markets,” said eASIC president/chief executive Ronnie Vasishta.

Dan McNamara, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group, notes in the company release that FPGAs “contain a mixture of logic, memory and digital signal processing blocks that can implement any desired function with extremely high throughput and very low latency,” making them ideal for use cases in cloud and edge applications. As such, he adds, the Programmable Solutions Group “has grown double digits as customers use FPGAs to accelerate artificial intelligence, among other applications.”

Clients “sometimes begin deployments with FPGAs for fast time-to-market and flexibility,” and then “migrate to devices called structured ASICs,” which are intermediaries between FPGAs and ASICs, to “optimize performance and power-efficiency.” The just-purchased company eASIC is “a leading structured ASICs provider.”

“Having a structured ASICs offering will help us better address high-performance and power-constrained applications that we see many of our customers challenged with in market segments like 4G and 5G wireless, networking and IoT,” says Intel, as well as “a low-cost, automated conversion process from FPGAs (including competing FPGAs) to structured ASICs.” The acquisition will be completed by Q3 2018.