Gowin - This Just Got Real

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gnuarm.del...@gmail.com

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Dec 9, 2020, 1:09:51 PM12/9/20
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I've been watching the various FPGA startup companies and a couple have product available through mainstream distributors. The one I like the most is Gowin because of the easy to use packages they offer, 100QFP, 88QFN, etc. I'm working on a ventilator project and have specified a Gowin part for that for many of the same reasons that I would use it myself.

Now a customer has asked me about respinning a board that is currently using an AKM part that was being made in the factory that burned down. The FPGA on that board is EOL and starting to get expensive, so along with the AKM part, the FPGA will be replaced. Gowin is looking pretty good. I've been watching them for some time which is why they were on my list for the ventilator project.

I'm wondering though, how can I determine how financially stable they are? I don't see where they are traded on the markets. So I have to figure they are still in VC startup mode. They did announce a year ago having reached 10 million parts shipped. That's not huge, but it seems well on the way to being a real FPGA company.


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Rick C.

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kkoorndyk

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Dec 10, 2020, 10:55:41 AM12/10/20
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They're a private company HQ'd in China so you're not likely to find much publicly available info on their financials. Based on their Crunchbase profile, news releases, and history of social media posts, it looks like they were founded in 2013 with first lines of FPGAs released in 2015. Looks like most of their management team has worked at Lattice in the past, which is interesting given how much their logos look alike.

It certainly sounds like they're investing in new devices and tools, which seems to indicate a healthy trajectory. Not sure what qualifies a company as a "real FPGA company", but they're still quite a ways off from the big guys in terms of technology and product portfolio.





gnuarm.del...@gmail.com

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Dec 10, 2020, 11:04:51 PM12/10/20
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In my real job I build a board with an EOL Lattice part. It may sell for another 10 years. I don't want to have to redesign it again. I actually still have 2,000 FPGAs, but I was using an AKM part and their factory burned down. Now a $3 part is $60 and up. So I expect we will redesign the board for that and pick a new FPGA as well. I don't want to hop out of the frying pan and into the fire. lol

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Rick C.

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gnuarm.del...@gmail.com

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Jan 23, 2021, 4:41:59 AMJan 23
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On Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 10:55:41 AM UTC-5, kkoorndyk wrote:

> They're a private company HQ'd in China so you're not likely to find much publicly available info on their financials. Based on their Crunchbase profile, news releases, and history of social media posts, it looks like they were founded in 2013 with first lines of FPGAs released in 2015. Looks like most of their management team has worked at Lattice in the past, which is interesting given how much their logos look alike.
>
> It certainly sounds like they're investing in new devices and tools, which seems to indicate a healthy trajectory. Not sure what qualifies a company as a "real FPGA company", but they're still quite a ways off from the big guys in terms of technology and product portfolio.

Well, things may have taken a turn for the worse. The US government has labeled them a Communist Chinese Military Company (CCMC). For the moment that only means people in the US are not allowed to trade their securities. But many listed as CCMCs are on "the Military End User List or the Entity List" which restricts sales and shipments of goods. I'm not certain what this means, but I think it puts me back to square one looking for an FPGA to use on my board.

1.0 mm 256 pin BGA is an option, but not so inexpensive. There's also a pricey 196 pin 1.0 mm BGA from Xilinx with a 6 kLUT Spartan 7 that would waste a bit less board space. Heck, that part has 52 pins on the outer ring alone, so it might be practical to ignore the inner I/Os eliminating a bunch of vias. Still, the power, ground, configuration and some other I/Os must be accessed no matter where in the package they are.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm not a big BGA fan.

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Rick C.

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Lasse Langwadt Christensen

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Jan 23, 2021, 5:24:18 PMJan 23
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why really? PCBs even for finer pitch are no longer expensive and when you have someone else do automated assembly
that's not an issue either

gnuarm.del...@gmail.com

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Jan 23, 2021, 6:12:41 PMJan 23
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That's not what I've found. In another forum someone was trying to say JLCPCB could make BGA boards on their low price line without problem. When I looked I found their specs to be unclear so I asked. The response was that if my board didn't meet their (unclear) requirements, they would enlarge the various parameters. Someone even posted an image of a board that had been "enlarged". The vias were hex shaped. Not sure what the layout called for, but I didn't find anyone showing a <1mm pitch BGA that was made on an inexpensive fabrication process.

I am going to ask my CM what the impact will be on my present board cost. If it's not much then ok. To use a 0.8 mm pitch BGA the design rule numbers don't go down too much. The 12 year old design uses 6/6 mil space/trace it would need to drop to 4/5 mil space/trace. The via annular ring would drop from 7 to 5 mil while the drill size can stay the same at 10 mil. The company who made my prototypes enlarged the holes to 13 mil saying that was within their stated tolerance specs while leaving only a 5.5 mil annular ring.

I also find it odd that in a 169 pin BGA they have so much overhead in pin count they can only manage to get 100 useful I/Os. That's insane! Then there is the higher cost of most BGAs. LSCS has some Xilinx Spartan 6 parts at good prices, but they are not an authorized distributor. $5 vs. Digikey at $15 makes you wonder how they are getting them. If push comes to shove I can pay the higher cost. It's better to make a few dollars less on a board than to not sell it at all.

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Rick C.

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