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What is Microchip FPGA?

Introduction to Microchip FPGAs

Microchip FPGAs are field programmable gate array chips designed and manufactured by Microchip Technology. As one of the leading FPGA vendors, Microchip offers a comprehensive portfolio of FPGAs for a wide range of applications.

This article provides an overview of Microchip’s FPGA products, key features and technologies, design software tools, target applications, and competitive positioning.

Microchip FPGA Product Families

Microchip has several FPGA product lines targeting different applications:

PolarFire FPGAs

PolarFire FPGAs are Microchip’s low power, security-minded FPGAs for demanding embedded applications.

Key attributes:

  • Lowest power consumption – up to 50% lower dynamic power
  • Defense-grade security features
  • Small form factors – from 100K to 500K logic elements
  • RISC-V CPU cores for hybrid FPGA+SoC designs
  • Radiation-tolerant options for space systems

SmartFusion2 SoC FPGAs

SmartFusion2 integrates an FPGA fabric along with an ARM Cortex-M3 CPU, memory, and peripherals for a complete system-on-chip (SoC).

Key highlights:

-166K to 500K FPGA logic elements

  • 800 MHz ARM Cortex-M3
  • Comprehensive I/O options including PCIe, Gigabit Ethernet and DDR3
  • Suitable for rugged embedded systems


IGLOO2 chips are optimized as low power FPGAs for automotive, industrial and consumer applications.

Key features:

  • Very low static and dynamic power
  • Up to 150K logic elements
  • Cost-optimized design and fabrication
  • Extended temperature range options

RTG4 Radiation Tolerant FPGAs

The RTG4 FPGAs are designed for high reliability in space flight systems and high energy physics.


  • Exceptional radiation tolerance to single event effects
  • RTAX-S/SL rad-hard product grades
  • Up to 1.2M system logic cells
  • Wide temp range of -55C to +125C

This wide portfolio addresses needs across defense, automotive, industrial, aerospace, and other sectors.

Key Benefits of Microchip FPGAs

Microchip FPGAs offer several technology advantages compared to competitors:

Lowest Power Consumption

Through innovations like 40nm fabrication, advanced power gating, and voltage scaling, Microchip FPGAs achieve remarkably low static and dynamic power. This allows efficient deployment in power-constrained embedded systems.

Defense Grade Security Features

Microchip FPGAs provide hardware and intellectual property protection through secure boot, key management, authentication, anti-tamper detectors, and encryption engines.


Selected Microchip FPGAs feature RISC-V CPU cores for hybrid FPGA+SoC designs. RISC-V is an open standard instruction set architecture.

Radiation Hardness

For space applications, Microchip’s RTG4 and PolarFire FPGA options provide industry-leading radiation tolerance and reliability.

FPGA+SoC Convergence

Unique solutions like SmartFusion2 combine FPGA flexibility with ARM CPU capabilities for a pre-integrated SoC in one chip.

These technology capabilities allow Microchip to target a broad spectrum of embedded, industrial, aerospace and other applications.

Design Ecosystem

To simplify and accelerate development with Microchip FPGAs, the company offers several software tools:

Libero SOC Design Suite

Libero is Microchip’s unified IDE for FPGA design, simulation, synthesis, place and route, and programming. It streamlines the full FPGA workflow.

Key features:

  • Intuitive GUI with point and click design entry
  • Integration with popular HDLs such as VHDL and Verilog
  • ModelSim FPGA Edition simulator included
  • Timing driven place and route engine
  • Secure production programming capabilities
  • Support for all Microchip FPGA families

SoftConsole Integrated Development Environment

SoftConsole is an Eclipse based IDE for software development targeting Microchip’s SoC FPGAs like SmartFusion2 and PolarFire. It enables embedded C/C++ application development, RTOS integration, debugging and more.

MPLAB Harmony and MPLAB X

For ARM and PIC microcontroller development, Microchip provides the MPLAB ecosystem of tools including MPLAB Harmony SDK and MPLAB X IDE. These can be used in conjunction with SoC FPGAs.

By providing a unified set of design tools tailored for its FPGAs, Microchip simplifies and accelerates time to market.

Target Applications

Microchip FPGAs are designed into a diverse set of applications across industries:

Aerospace and Defense

  • Flight and weapons systems
  • Radar and imaging systems
  • Encryption and Secure communications


  • ADAS systems
  • In-vehicle networking
  • Battery management systems


  • Motor drives
  • Power monitoring and control
  • Remote I/O modules


  • DNA sequencing instruments
  • MRI and imaging systems
  • Patient monitoring


  • Hardware security modules
  • Home automation
  • IoT edge nodes

With their focus on low power and reliability, Microchip FPGAs are well suited for embedded systems in rugged environments. The company continues to expand into emerging applications like artificial intelligence (AI) as well.

Competitive Positioning

The FPGA market is dominated by Xilinx and Intel (formerly Altera). However, Microchip is staking out a strong position through its focus segments:

Low Power Embedded Systems

Microchip’s low power innovations have carved out a niche in embedded applications where Xilinx and Intel FPGAs are often too power hungry.

Radiation Hardened Aerospace

In the satellite and space segment, Microchip’s radiation tolerant RTG4 FPGAs have a commanding market share.


FPGAs like IGLOO2 and PolarFire offer the reliability and security needed in vehicle systems.

Mid-Range Densities

By targeting FPGAs with 10K to 500K logic elements, Microchip avoids direct competition with the FPGA giants.

SoC Integration

Unique hybrid FPGA+SoC devices like SmartFusion2 provide integrated solutions unmatched by competitors.

Through these focused efforts, Microchip has emerged as a formidable contender in the global FPGA industry. The company is steadily gaining market share in many expanding applications.


In summary, key points about Microchip FPGAs:

  • Breadth of product portfolio covering different densities, markets, and features
  • Extensive design tool suite enables complete application development
  • Focus on low power, security, SoC integration and radiation hardness
  • Targeting key growth applications in defense, industrial, automotive, aerospace segments
  • Carving out specific niches vs leading vendors Xilinx and Intel

With each new product generation, Microchip continues innovating in power efficiency, performance, reliability, and security. Backed by its strengths in embedded systems, Microchip is cementing its position as a top FPGA provider for mission-critical applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of Microchip’s key FPGA product families?

Major FPGA families include PolarFire, IGLOO2, SmartFusion2, and RTG4. Each targets different densities, power levels, features, and applications.

What design software does Microchip offer for FPGA development?

Microchip provides the Libero SOC FPGA design suite, SoftConsole IDE for SoC development, and MPLAB ecosystem for programming and debugging.

What are some advantages of Microchip FPGAs over competitors?

Advantages include extremely low power, integrated SoC capabilities, radiation tolerance, defense-grade security, and a focus on the specific needs of embedded and industrial applications.

What applications are Microchip FPGAs designed for?

Key target applications span aerospace, automotive, industrial, medical, defense, and consumer segments. Specific uses cases include flight systems, vehicle networks, motor drives, patient monitoring and more.

How does Microchip position against the leading FPGA vendors?

Microchip carves out segments such as low power embedded, radiation hardening and SoC hybrids while avoiding head-on competition across the entire market with Xilinx and Intel.




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