Low-cost European FPGA launched with IPCEI support

March 02, 2020 // By Peter Clarke
Low-cost European FPGA launched with IPCEI support
The European Union backed Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) has helped a German chip company support continental strategic independence with a low-cost, European designed and manufactured FPGA family.

Cologne Chip AG, a long-time provider of telecommunications chipsets and IP, has launched a family of small- to medium-sized FPGAs under the family name GateMate. The chips are manufactured for Cologne Chip by Globalfoundries Inc. in Dresden, Germany, using its 28nm CMOS process called 28SLP.

The GateMate FPGA program is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the IPCEI on Microelectronics project, Cologne Chip said. The value of the support received was not disclosed.

At the end of 2018 the European Commission approved a microelectronics research plan – tendered jointly by France, Germany, Italy and Germany – as an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for microelectronics that allowed public authorities to provide up to €1.75 billion (about $2 billion) to support research and innovation (see Europe approves state-aid for electronics worth €1.75 billion).

In essence, the European Commission's approval provides some sort of cover – as yet untested – against accusations that the state aid constitutes a subsidy that is illegal under World Trade Organization rules. At the same time Cologne Chip makes the point that, in an era of increasing trade friction, the European manufacturing of the GateMate FPGAs means that European customers will not see price hikes due to import tariffs or restricted supply due to trade restrictions.

Some 14 months after approval of the IPCEI was announced the FPGAs provide good PPA (performance, power, area) trade off so that high-speed applications are possible at low power consumption. Cologne Chip claims the logic capacity, power consumption, package size and PCB compatibility are best in class. For these reasons Cologne is predicting applications in industry, automation, communication, security, automotive, IoT and lighting.

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