Presented by

  • Tim Saxe & Brian Faith

    Tim Saxe & Brian Faith

    Timothy Saxe (Ph.D) has served as the Senior Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer since November 2008. Dr. Saxe was Vice President of FLASH Engineering at Actel Corporation, a semiconductor manufacturing company. Dr. Saxe joined GateField Corporation, a design verification tools and services company formerly known as Zycad, in June 1983 and was a founder of their semiconductor manufacturing division in 1993. Dr. Saxe became GateField's Chief Executive Officer in February 1999 and served in that capacity until GateField was acquired by Actel in November 2000. Mr. Saxe holds a B.S.E.E. degree from North Carolina State University, and an M.S.E.E. degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Brian Faith has served as President and CEO since June 2016, has 24+ years of experience in the semiconductor market, holding a variety of leadership positions in engineering, product line management, marketing and sales. Brian has also served as the board member of the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA), and the Chairman of the Marketing Committee for the CE-ATA Organization. He is active in the CHIPS Alliance and OpenHW Group. He holds a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University and was an Adjunct Lecturer at Santa Clara University for Programmable Logic courses.


This talk will take you on our journey from resistance to adoption of something unthinkable - An FPGA company adopting Open Source FPGA Tooling. We are at a tipping point in the semiconductor industry. Companies are demonstrating that you can build a successful business model based on open source; just look at the accelerating adoption rate that RISC-V ISA is seeing in the processor space. And yet this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how disruptive open source hardware can become to the semiconductor industry. Since the inception of our industry, the vendor-supported FPGA development tools have been proprietary and closed source. Initially this was simply because that is the way things were done – there were no open standards. But over time, keeping them closed and proprietary enabled a level of influence and control over users. If a designer liked your software, they tended not to change, and that implicitly makes your user base captive. Open source FPGA tools have been around for a long time, being used primarily by hobbyists and in academia. Over the past few years, this situation has evolved, with an increasing number of new developers with software backgrounds gravitating towards open source FPGA development tools, including design teams at some of the largest companies in the electronics industry. So, why do FPGA companies still resist them? Not Invented Here? Fear? Control? This talk will serve two purposes: 1. To show how one company is building its future on top of open source FPGA tools 2. To share how we arrived at our decision in the hope that others will soon take the same leap.