Series 10 – Episode 5 – The critical role of FPGAs in automotive applications
Paige West speaks with Mark Hoopes, Director of Automotive and Industrial at Lattice Semiconductor about FPGAs in automotive applications.
Hoopes manages the industrial and automotive segments at Lattice, having been there approximately two and a half years. Previously, Hoopes worked in the industry at many other semiconductor companies including Intel, Altera, and AMD Xilinx.
Lattice Semiconductor is the world’s largest supplier of FPGAs by volume, it ships about a billion units every four years.
FPGA stands for Field Programmable Gate Arrays, which are semiconductor devices that can be fully customised to any sort of logical function. They include logic and memory and digital signal processing capabilities. You can also programme them to incorporate CPUs inside the devices.
In this podcast, Hoopes focuses on FGPAs within the automotive sector.
“I think it’s safe to say that the automotive industry is undergoing the largest changes since the history of automotive production.
“The architectures are changing dramatically from distributed small, low power compute devices to more of a centralised architecture. Also switching to electric vehicles, they have different power distribution.”
One of the things we all learnt during the pandemic is that supply chains can cause problems for a lot of people. And automotive industry supply chains in particular are really complicated and consumers started to learn how important semiconductors are to the production of today's intelligent cars. FPGAs also play a critical role in today's latest car designs.
“I think everybody’s well aware that there are lots of shortages in semiconductors that really affect the automotive market and, frankly, Lattice has been very well positioned to help many customers. They’re partly due to our natural planning cycle and our position as the largest volume producer of FPGAs, so we had more units available and on order.
“All of our devices and products are optimised for processing at the Edge, as opposed to the data centre, or in the communications network, which typically requires high power and more costly FPGAs. It’s a sweet spot for us.”
Hoopes goes on to talk about the inherent characteristics about certain FPGAs that make them well suited for automotive applications and how he sees FPGAs evolving with the demands coming from the sector.