Title
Data acquisition card for PC
FPGA and ASIC technology allows real-time application under WINDOWS
Technologies used

FPGA, Digital ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    333 Industrial Process Control Equipment
    332 Instruments for Measurement
Abstract
ERMA Electronic is a company with 19 employees. The company's main business is the development, manufacturing and sale of data acquisition plug-in-boards for PCs. The products aresold to awide range of customers, e.g. machine building, automotive industry, food industry and education. Main application of the boards is the measuring of temperatures and voltages. ERMA's data acquisition cards are used in machine tools, in testbenches for engines in the automotive industry, the cold storage area for fruit, foundries, rolling mills, laboratories, and education.

The overall marketsize for these products is in the range of 750 million EUR. ERMAs main market is germany. 90% of our products are sold here, the rest in other european countries.

Competitive restrictions of the existing plug-in-cards, completely realised with conventional analog and digital standard components, were the high number of used SSI and MSI components and the resulting size of the boards. This caused a high price. Additionally, it was not possible to add more functions. Neither could the board be enlarged, nor more components could be added.

FPGA and ASIC technologies are needed, because we have to react very fast in form of FPGA based solutions to special customer needs, as well as to deliver standard ASIC-components in a high number of pieces. These technologies were never used before. Therefore, the proposed Application Experiment had the objective to introduce FPGA and digital ASIC technology into ERMA’s business by transferring the necessary design know-how to our specialists. With the Application Experiment the limitations were overcome. The results will open new important segments for ERMA's products.

The redesign of the plug-in-board AD1227 should serve as pilot project for the application of a two chip design using an ASIC and a FPGA. Many of the components should be replaced by the ASIC and the FPGA. In this way, the restrictions mentioned above do not exist anymore. It was possible
 to implement additional functions
 to reduce board size and component count
 to reduce the manufacturing costs and the price of the board
 to improve the reliability of the system
In the Application Experiment, ERMA`s specialists learnt to select the optimal technology fora given product specification, to design and simulate digital system level using VHDL and to implement the corresponding digital circuitry into FPGAs/ASICs. Furthermore, the technical management of such a design and the possible interfaces for a migration to an ASIC were learnt. Additionally, existing management barriers to start such sophisticated projects were overcome.

The costs up to the working prototype were 85.000 EUR . The project started in October 1997 and ran for 23 months until August 1999, an extension of 11 months included. This extension became necessary, because one of the specialists mainly involved in the project left the company. The other reason was a 6 months delivery period for the ASICs produced within a MPW run because of internal technical problems of the fab. The total ROI for the FUSE investment will be 250% over 6 years. This will result in a payback period for the FUSE investment of about 2,5 years
Company
ERMA - Electronic GmbH
Max-Eyth-Straße 8
D-78194 Immendingen
Germany

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

FPGA, Digital ASIC technology provided ERMA - Electronic GmbH with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.
investment will be 250% over 6 years. This will result in a payback period for the FUSE investment of about 2,5 years


Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Gesellschaft fur Mikroelektronikanwendung Chemnitz mbH
Matthesstrasse 53
D-09113 Chemnitz
Germany