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Outsourcing FPGA Design: Pros and cons

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Outsourcing FPGA Design: Pros and cons

  1. 1. Jeff Johnson FPGA Design Consultant 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 1
  2. 2.  Is your company’s key competence something other than FPGA design?  Do you lack the FPGA design work to employ someone full-time?  Is your design team is overloaded?  Are you having trouble finding expertise? 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 2
  3. 3.  Manage fluctuating workloads easily and without risk  Leverage specialized expertise  Start projects when the market is ready, not when your staff is ready  Take advantage of greater flexibility 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 3
  4. 4.  Fluctuating workloads is a typical problem in design houses  Many companies struggle with maintaining their optimal team size (hiring and firing)  Outsourcing FPGA design can provide a buffer for periods when workloads peak  Outsourcing FPGA design can help you to achieve your deadlines 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 4
  5. 5.  The learning curve for FPGAs is steep and long It takes a long time to learn tools and devices and to become proficient in making reliable designs  Keeping up to date with the evolution of FPGAs is a full-time job  Experienced FPGA developers are hard to find  Outsourcing FPGA design allows you to focus on your core competency and to leverage the knowledge of an expert 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 5
  6. 6.  Meet demand when the market is ready, not when your team is ready  FPGA design can be started even before the hardware design has started  Validate your concept sooner  After all, the largest benefit of FPGAs is faster development cycles 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 6
  7. 7.  Contain budgets through fixed prices You couldn’t ask your employee to work for a fixed price!  It’s easier to drop a contractor than it is to let go of an employee  If you’re not happy with your provider, get a new one 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 7
  8. 8.  Hardware transfer might be necessary  Must trust an outsider with your IP  Management and communication can be more difficult than with an employee  Provider may juggle multiple projects and cannot be 100% deticated to you 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 8
  9. 9.  Do you have any custom hardware that your provider will need to perform the job? Do they really need it? Can you live with code that has been verified by simulation or code that has been tested on a different hardware platform than your own?  Transfering hardware should be minimized because it creates delays and complicates planning Find a provider that is well equiped and give well defined and contained jobs (modules) that can be verified without your complete hardware setup 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 9
  10. 10.  Must trust the provider with your company IP Make sure you place a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with all providers  Must trust your provider to bill you honestly Try to find providers through referals and make sure all contracts are well defined and projects contained  Unlike an employee, you will not always know what your provider is doing 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 10
  11. 11.  Communication must be done over the phone or by email  You need an in-house technical point of contact (TPOC) to manage the work  Your provider may have several clients and be unable to spend 100% of the time on your job  You might not get that change done right now as you can with an employee 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 11
  12. 12.  Outsourcing FPGA design can be a powerful leveraging strategy but is not suitable for all companies and projects  Know your needs intimately and find a provider that fits those needs  Take advantage of the modular nature of FPGA design 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 12
  13. 13.  For free assistance in understanding your FPGA needs, contact me at the link below: FPGA Design Consultant  Or for FPGA design services: FPGA Design Services 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 13
  14. 14. 8 August 2011FPGA Design Consultant 14

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