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Microsemi Corporation (MSCC - Analyst Report), an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of a broad range of high-reliability and analog/mixed signal integrated circuits, announced the launch of SmartFusion 2 Starter Kit, a platform for its SmartFusion2 system-on-chip (SoC) field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

Field programmable gate arrays are semiconductor devices that allow programming/reprogramming even after the device has been installed. This flexibility makes the devices more expensive relative to regular programmable logic devices (PLDs), so their use is relatively restricted.

Systems on Chips or SoCs are integrated circuits that incorporate programmable logic, temperature or power sensing and management plus communication functions into a single, low power device.

The starter kit comes with a USB and a WiFi adapter, so users can access a SmartFusion2 device via any smartphone web browser or other wireless device.

Microsemi’s SmartFusion2 SoC FPGA is designed for challenging and critical operations in industrial, defense, aviation, communications and medical applications where accurate, reliable and flawless results are vital. Microsemi has developed its next generation SoC FPGA to meet the requirements of industry manufacturers, which include security, power efficiency and speed at the lowest possible cost for each application.

The FPGA market is witnessing growth, as it is proving useful in wireless communications. Further, the vendors are adopting this technology for complex designs. According to a report by TechNavio, the global FPGA market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4% from 2011 to 2015, driven by the growing demand for customizable integrated circuits (ICs). Therefore, Microsemi’s new products could do quite well.

Microsemi’s revenue in the first quarter of 2013 was $247.6 million, down 5.9% sequentially but up 2.8% year over year.   The defense, aerospace and medical markets largely consume Microsemi’s high reliability chips, while the other markets use its analog/mixed signal products.

Microsemi has a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). However, not all semiconductor companies are in the doldrums. A few that are currently doing well include MagnaChip Semiconductor Corp. (MX - Snapshot Report), Silicon Laboratories Inc. (SLAB - Snapshot Report) and Microchip Technology Inc (MCHP - Analyst Report). While MagnaChip and Silicon carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Microchip carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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