Starting off, CSSP equals Customer Specific Standard Product. QuickLogic introduced the CSSP concept to the market back in 2007, and our efforts are paying off, as shown by the growth of this technology (we reported a 93% increase in new product sales in our last earning call).
But what exactly is a CSSP, and what makes it different from other products out there?
A CSSP is…
A CSSP is a semiconductor device that can have a certain amount of dedicated functions contained (we refer to this as hard logic), as well as a certain amount of area dedicated to customer-specific programming (referred to as programmable fabric). Using our ArcticLink II VX2 as an example, the hard logic contains our VEE and DPO technologies, as well as a PWM function. The remaining portion of the chip (fabric) is used to populate technologies from our Proven System Block (PSB) menu, or in some cases a customer’s technology.
A CSSP is not…
A CSSP is not a pure ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) or FGPA (Field Programmable Gate Array).
CSSPs versus ASICs
A CSSP differs from ASIC’s in the following ways:
- Development Time and Costs…ASIC’s are built 100% custom to the application. This means that ASIC’s need to be designed from the “ground up” in an effort to optimize size and cost for the application. Development time an ASIC averages 12 months from inception to mass production. For a CSSP? We’ve sampled devices to customers in as quick as 4 weeks. And since all our PSBs are production-proven, and all our various CSSPs are mass-production qualified, we can be in production immediately. Time-to-market is always critical, but more so in the handheld device markets we serve, where average development time on new hardware has shrunk from 12-18 months to less than 6. In this market, a 12-month design cycle for a component pretty much assures it will be out-of-date before it’s ever in production.
- Up-front Production Costs …all semiconductor products require costly mask sets for fabrication. In ASIC development, it’s common for production masks to cost upwards of $1,000,000. That also assumes that the device works the first time (ask a silicon designer how often this happens). This cost needs to paid somehow, either through NRE for the OEM, or added to per-unit production costs. Since CSSPs are all mass-production, there are NO up-front production costs.
|Development Time||As quick as 1 month||12-18 months typical|
|Up Front Production Costs||$0||As much as $1,000,000|
|Cost (at 1 million units)||More attractive||Less Attractive|
CSSPs versus FPGA
A CSSP differs from an FPGA in the following ways:
- Programming…both a CSSP and FPGA have programmable areas that allow for great functionality. With a standard FPGA, system designers are required to learn the specific programming language of the FPGA supplier—the FPGA supplier does not actually program the parts or provide any IP. Creating the IP-specific programming for the FPGA is time-consuming, and requires the system designer/OEM to maintain staff with specialized skills. CSSPs differ because QuickLogic does all the programming with our PSB library, or customer-supplied IP. QuickLogic doesn’t require system designers to learn our programming language, which allows them to allocate staff towards making their own products better, not learning the nuances of ours. When shipped, CSSPs represent a final programmed part, with no extra work required by our customers.
- Cost and Power Consumption…FPGAs are large devices that are notoriously power-hungry. CSSPs are not. FPGA cost to an OEM can be 4X the cost of a CSSP. This is why, for all the functionality options FPGAs offer, you do not see them in handheld consumer devices.
|Development Time||As quick as 1 month||Depends on designer skills|
|Customer Programming Requirements||None||100%|
|IP||Production-Proven QuickLogic||100% Customer or 3rd party supplied|
|Cost||Attractive for handheld mobile devices||Not attractive|