AMD/Xilinx automotive chips must go beyond FPGAs

An article written by Junko Yoshida for the Ojo & Yoshida Report – AMD needs an auto semiconductor road map that tightly integrates Xilinx’s FPGAs with its own embedded expertise.

What’s at stake?

AMD is looking to cement its future in automotive, one of the hottest markets for semiconductor companies armed with high-performance computing platforms today. Xilinx’s extensive contacts with Tier Ones and OEMs can help, but AMD needs a lot more – including a long-term commitment and a product road map that melds its embedded experience with Xilinx’s FPGAs.     

AMD’s plan to exploit a boom in the data center market is well known and understood. The buzz is quieter, though, about the company’s ambitions in the automotive market now that it has acquired FPGA specialist Xilinx.

Does AMD have an automotive strategy? If so, what are its outlines?

Perhaps more importantly, “Will AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, commit to a five- to-10-year game plan [to be a player in the automotive semiconductor market]?” asked Colin Barnden, principal analyst at Semicast Research. AMD will face formidable competitors there, like Qualcomm, Nvidia and Mobileye.

AMD’s Ryzen infotainment/navigation processor is designed into Tesla’s new Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. So, clearly, AMD is paying closer attention to the automotive sector. But if they have a long-term automotive strategy, AMD’s executives have yet to lay their cards on the table.

The recent acquisition of Xilinx will force AMD’s hand. 

Does FPGA technology give AMD enough ammunition to lead the automotive semiconductor market?

Xilinx, now AMD’s FPGA unit, is already a leading designer and supplier of processors for advanced vehicle sensors. Xilinx presents a fresh beachhead for AMD in automotive. Riding Xilinx’s FPGA prowess, AMD can add new revenue from the automotive sector, along with access to auto OEMs and Tier Ones that Xilinx has been serving over the years.

Tom Hackenberg, principal analyst at Yole Développement, noted that automotive has never been AMD’s strong suit. In fact, “AMD has product lines directed toward highly embedded solutions, but the company has never really successfully targeted automotive,” he said.  

Given that automotive is “a very desirable market for compute [-intensive] solutions providers,” Hackenberg said the acquisition of Xilinx creates “a foothold for AMD to develop relationships with automotive OEMs that they did not have.”

But here’s the rub: Does FPGA technology give AMD enough ammunition to lead the automotive semiconductor market?

The Ojo-Yoshida Report believes FPGA prowess is important, but insufficient by itself. AMD must build an auto semiconductor road map that tightly integrates Xilinx’s FPGAs with its own embedded expertise. Adding semicustom ASICs – an initiative that Xilinx is not ready to discuss – will be vital to Xilinx’s prospects and to solidifying AMD’s position in the automotive market… Full article

Source: https://ojoyoshidareport.com

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