ASIC vs FPGA – Difference and Comparison

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.

Difference 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.

Comparison Between ASIC and FPGA

Parameters of comparisonASICFPGA
DesignCan be customized and created according to the needsSimple design and is reprogrammable
OperationCan carry out a single operationCan carry one or more logical operations according to the user
ProtectionIP protected and is unique to one anotherLess protective and are same with one another structurally
CostGenerally 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