At SoPC Co., we've done our best to create a Web site that anticipates and satisfies our customers' needs. With that goal in mind, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions. If you do not find an answer to your question here, please contact us at (602) 524-0743 or .
Q: What is a SoPC?
SoPC stands for System on a Programmable Chip. These are often realized in FPGAs using arrangements of off-the-shelf IP cores. Given that FPGAs are digital-only ICs, the functionality that can be included on a single chip is all digital. In order to have ADC, amplifiers, etc., external chips are required. However in many cases that extra circuitry can be embodied in a single low-cost PSoC (see the next item).
The density of FPGAs is such that a single IC can embody one or even four very high performance embedded processors along with a DMA controller, bus arbitration, Ethernet, I2C, USB and so forth. This approach offers many advantages. For more information, please see our SoPC page.
Q: What is a PSoC?
PSoC stands for Programmable System on a Chiptm. This term is trademarked by Cypress Semiconductor. This family of devices houses a RISC microcontroller, and a number of analog (both switched-capacitor and continuous time) and digital blocks, along with an interconnection array that functions similar to a crosspoint switch. These blocks can be configured in a variety of ways, and interconnected very flexibly within the chip, then routed to pins. For more information, please see our PSoC page.
Q: How much does it cost to develop a custom SoPC solution?
The cost depends on a number of factors. Here are some of them:
2. How much has been done already. Does the system just need to be completed, tweaked or debugged?
3. Do we have existing code, or design that can be modified, or do we need to begin anew?
4. Are there going to be other expenses such as PCB manufacturing, or specialized tools?
5. Is SoPC Co. going to do all the work, or only certain parts of the design?
Q: How long does it take to develop a custom SoPC solution?
That, too, depends on a number of factors, including those listed above. We can usually develop according to your timetable, and your budget. Rush jobs might cost a little more. It depends...
Q: Why should I use you instead of my brother-in-law?
We probably don’t know your brother-in-law. We’re sure he’s a good guy, but we can’t speak to his experience. However, we’ve been doing this for about 20 years, and we’re very good at designing SoPCs, and embedded systems. If your brother-in-law does a crummy job, what’re you going to do about it? We stand behind our work, and in most cases that means you get free support. On the other hand we’re somebody’s brother-in-law too, so go figure...
Q: I’ve used consultants before, how do I know that you won’t give me a solution that almost works, then leave it up to us to figure out what to do?
The best way to know that we’ll do the right thing is to ask our customers. Call us and we’ll give you some references. Another reason is that we want to keep our industry affiliations. We can’t help our partners sell silicon unless we provide working designs, and the support that goes with them. In most cases we will certify that the design meets your requirements, and provide support at no additional cost.
Q: We want to keep our expertise in-house. Can you just help us out?
Certainly! We will work with you to get your projects operational on an as-needed basis.
Sometimes we hear this concern because management wants to ensure the maintainability of the product. We provide sufficient documentation and knowledge transfer to allow your personnel to take care of that.
Sometimes we hear this because management is concerned that they might end up without any support. That’s very legitimate. All we can say is: Talk to our customers, we’ve been around for a long time. In reality, the same consideration applies to having an employee be the repository of this expertise. The employee might leave the company to work elsewhere, and if that happens, it’s unlikely that person will be of much help. We’ll still be here, though. So you might consider how available that resource will be over the product’s lifetime.
Many times, after seeing how we work, our customers get comfortable with using us as a resource, much as they use other vendors and even employees. Many find that it is more cost-effective to go ahead and have us complete their projects. We do all we can to minimize your risk, and ensure that the completed system meets your needs. However, if you prefer to develop the expertise in-house, we are happy to help.
Q: Will you help us to figure out if we should go with a custom SoPC solution?
Of course! There is no charge for the initial consultation. We will sit down with you in person or on the phone to discuss your specific needs. There might be an off-the-shelf solution that will work. Or maybe there are more cost-effective approaches than the ones you’ve considered. We’ve been doing this for about 20 years, and want to share that experience with you.
Q: Why will you meet with us for free?
We don’t want to waste your time or ours. We have found that our prospective customers are more comfortable with the process after finding out how we assist them, and how we do business. It’s better for both of us if we can get a decent understanding of the project before we make any business arrangements.
Q: I notice that you are certified by a couple of companies. What does that mean?
These companies have slightly different certification requirements, but in general it means three things:
1. We have successfully completed designs with the company’s product.
2. We meet certain requirements for product knowledge, and competency.
3. The company provides additional support and training to us. This is to ensure that we are up-to-date with the latest advances in components and tools, and that we can implement your solution as efficiently as possible.
Q: How quickly can you start helping us out?
Usually we can begin immediately. If other commitments make that difficult or impossible, we will let you know that right away.