Defense and communications chip supplier Microsemi Corp. (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) has started delivering ASICs to customers made using Intel's 22nm FinFET manufacturing process but is unlikely to ship FPGAs based on the process, according to Russ Garcia, executive vice president of marketing for the company.
"We don't have plans to do a 22nm FPGA but we do have plans for 22nm ASICs," said Garcia was speaking at a multi-company press briefing being held in Tegernsee near Munich.
Microsemi is a supplier of a broad range of digital, mixed-signal, analog and RF circuits into communications, defense, aerospace and industrial applications. The company signed a deal in January 2013 for Intel to act as foundry with its 22nm FinFET process with product delivery expected to begin late in 2014 or early in 2015.
Garcia said the 22nm was being applied to custom ASICs for military and communications customers. "We have delivered [22nm ICs] to some customers but its not big revenues right now," he said.
Microsemi also sells field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) as a legacy of its acquisition of Actel Corp. in November 2010 and is currently defining the so-called "Generation 5" to follow on from the SmartFusion2 and Igloo2 FPGAs it currently supplies. There has been demand for FPGAs for sale into defense applications to be made in the United States for reasons of security.
However, it seems unlikely that Microsemi will be moving its FPGA products on to a FinFET process any time soon because the company has always emphasized the fact that its FPGAs are based on non-volatile manufacturing that enhances security by being single-chip and through other features non-volatility brings. Microsemi's Igloo2 and SmartFusion2 FPGAs are implemented on 65nm embedded flash process.
The FPGA leaders – Altera and Xilinx – produce FPGAs using SRAM-based logic elements and therefore are able to move to leading-edge processes from Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
"The 22nm FinFET is an interesting node. It might not be the right node for a standard product," Garcia said. "We also have access to the Intel 14nm FinFET manufacturing process, he added. Garcia declined to say if and when standard products from Microsemi would debut on the 14nm FinFET process from Intel.
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