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A Brief History of QuickLogic

A Brief History of QuickLogic
by Paul McLellan on 06-19-2014 at 10:18 am

 Quicklogic was founded in 1988 as a fables semiconductor company supplying anti-fuse devices. In fact VLSI Technology, where I was working at the time, was their foundry.

Although today anti-fuse is often used as a generic word for one-time-programmability, the origins of the name are grounded in reality. In a fuse, like the things we used to use before we had circuit breakers in our houses, if the current gets to high, the fuse-wire melts and thus breaks the circuit and so protects the wiring from damage or starting a fire. Anti-fuse works the other way around. A non-conducting bit of the circuit becomes permanently conducting if a high current is passed through it, so rather than breaking the circuit, it makes the circuit. Quicklogic called their implementation ViaLink technology since it basically made a non-conducting via become conducting.

In 1991 they introduced what were then the industries highest performance, lowest power FPGAs based on this technology. A couple of years later they introduced open tool synthesis to make programming the devices more straightforward. In 1997 they introduced their first devices combining hardwired logic with programmable logic fabric.

In 1999 Quicklogic went public on Nasdaq.

In 2001 they introduced their first devices combining processors with programmable logic. In 2007 they tweaked their business model and introduced their Customer Specific Standard Product (CSSP) customer engagement model, combining both hardware and software to produce innovative products for mobile and industrial customers. This provides the flexibility of an FPGA without requiring the customer to do their own design, combined with the focus of an ASSP without the high NRE and long lead-time.

The following year they introduced the PolarPro II designed to meet the connectivity, intelligence, security and system logic requirements for mobile applications.

In 2010 they introduced ArcticLink II VX providing an innovative approach to reducing power used by the display in mobile devices, resulting in 25% batter extensions in smartphones. The technology is known as Visual Enhancement Engine (VEE). By varying the display backlight power depending on what is being displayed, power can be saved without impacting the user experience. Since then various more advanced versions of this technology have been brought to market.

The most recent product offerings have been:

  • ArcticLink 3 S1 ultra-low power sensor hub offering OEMs always-on context awareness at a cost of under 2% of battery life
  • PowerPro 3, their first one-time programmable logic-devices for mobile and industrial markets
  • The catalog CSSP product strategy

 And earlier this month they announced two products, the S1 wearable sensor hub and software for recognizing tap and wrist rotation for use in watch-like wearable devices. The always-on power consumption is less than 250uW. I wrote about them in an earlier post here.

CSSPs are complete, customer-specific solutions that include a combination of silicon solution platforms, Proven System Blocks (PSBs,) customer-specific logic, software drivers and firmware. CSSPs extend battery life, provide alway-on context awareness, improve the viewability of images on mobile displays and add differentiated features to handheld mobile devices. QuickLogic supplies leading edge, low-power customizable semiconductor sub-system solutions for tablets, smartphones, broadband data cards, secure access data cards and mobile enterprise products. These solutions include storage, I/O, display, network and memory.

More about Quicklogic on their website here.

More articles by Paul McLellan…

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