Difference Between ASIC and FPGA (With Table)

The dawn of the modern era witnessed a transition to technology from its contemporaries. With technology coming forward we get two circuits that are ASIC and FPGA

ASIC stands for Application-Specific Integrated Circuit

FPGA stands for Field programmable gate array

ASIC vs FPGA

The main difference between ASIC and FPGA is that in ASIC we get a microchip that is designed for special application as per the needs of the user and is not re-programmable while FPGA is re-programmable and can be programmed by the user for specific use after it has been manufactured.

ASIC is used by users for specific applications as per the needs and allows different designs for a specific action to be taken in a device particularly. This allows users privacy and protection from other products of the same category but it is not reprogrammable and no changes can be made in the circuit after it has been made.

FPGA gives the user a better option in terms of bug fixing or changing certain properties of a product. They can carry out one or more logical operations and its integrated circuit allows custom digital logic changes which are reprogrammable and help users to modify a product even after it has been made.

Comparison Table Between ASIC and FPGA

Parameters of comparisonASICFPGA
DesignCan be customized and created according to the needsSimple design and is reprogrammable
Operation Can carry out a single operation Can carry one or more logical operations according to the user
ProtectionIP protected and is unique to one another Less protective and are same with one another structurally
Cost Generally higher cost because of custom made circuitsThese are low-cost circuits with higher processing power
StructureSmall and comes in a single chipBased on the matrix of configurable logic blocks known as CLB

What is ASIC?

ASIC is Application-specific integrated circuit that is designed for special applications and usage. They come with a custom design and their different design allows specific function action in a single device. ASIC has two primary design methods. They are:

  1. Gate Array Design: This design is generally large in size and comes prebuilt and cannot be customized. This design is not widely used and due to larger in size consumes more power and a large power supply is required,
  2. Full Custom Design: This design allows specific functions to take place in a product. These can be made according to the needs for which can be made in any shape and consumes less power as compared to Gate Array Design.

There are multiple reasons to use ASIC in a product. This integrated circuit is widely used for its size which can be customized consumes less power and performs according to variety in designs.

The main reason to use ASIC is IP protection which is due to the custom-made design for which it falls independently from other circuits.

ASIC provides a competitive edge to other products in the same category due to the versatility and protection also carrying traits like smarter, faster, and more reliable because of the size.

What is FPGA?

FPGA is Field programmable gate array that is reprogrammable after it has been made. They carry out more operations than ASIC and use hardware descriptive language like VHDL. FPGA is generally dominant because of its reprogrammable ability. This is made based on a matrix of configurable logic blocks known as CLB.

CLB is made up of four basic components:

  1. Reconfigurable Interconnect
  2. I/O Block
  3. Fixed functional logic block
  4. Block Ram

FPGA is generally faster and can do power processing of signals efficiently. They adapt to the hardware changes and hence are widely considered in certain categories. They are much less in cost and hence are widely used.

This is used in Airspace defense, audio processing products, medical devices, automotive industries, security systems, video and image processing units, wireless communications, etc.

The main reason for the use of this chip in highly vulnerable fields is its reliability and reprogrammable ability.

Main Differences Between ASIC and FPGA

  1. In terms of design, ASIC provides unique structure according to the requirements of the product whereas FPGA is reprogrammable where changes can be made according to the hardware but they are not unique in structure.
  2. In carrying out operations ASIC performs single operation in a product as required by the user. FPGA on the other hand performs one or more logical operations in a product.
  3. ASIC is unique from other products of same category which makes it protected and falls independently from others. Hence providing IP protection from others. While FPGA is basically popular and comes in same structure where they are reprogrammable according to hardware changes makes it popular but not protected.
  4. The costing of ASIC is high because of custom made chips. They are used less because of high cost and also because they deals in single operation. FPGA is generally low cost because of reprogrammable ability and also has high processing power and hence is used widely.
  5. The structure of ASIC is small and comes in single chip. The FPGA is generally complex in structure and is made based on matrix of configurable logic blocks known as CLB.

Conclusion

To be precise, both ASIC and FPGA are chips that deal with certain products and give the manufacturer versatility over products and the way they can be used. Both have unique qualities and cover different areas.

The ASIC compared to FPGA was widely used in the early 1900s whereas FPGA are gaining much attention in military fields associated with signals or air-crafts nowadays. Both have different structures which indeed makes them ready to use in different situations and as per requirements. The superior being FPGA as a widely used chip technology is recognized as of now.   

References

  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/4068926/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0026269205003927