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Over the past decade, FPGAs have gained a foothold as one of the most used building blocks in digital systems. The flexibility of an FPGA allows designers to decrease hardware design cycles while adding inherent feature upgradability in the final product. In addition, the data rates of modern FPGAs are competing with CMOS ASICs, thus allowing the needed system performance to be achieved using what was once only … Read More → "FPGA I/O"

FPGAs in Space

When was the last time you disassembled the package of each FPGA in your design to make sure the bonding is secure? Would your design criteria be different if shipping your device to its destination cost $13,000.00 per pound? What if your FPGA was in an environment where the radiation levels made random upsets of memory elements more the rule than the exception? If your device were operating in a vacuum, how would you think about heat dissipation? Would you work or think differently if an error in your design could result in loss of life, or in property damage … Read More → "FPGAs in Space"

The Challenges of Modern FPGA Design Verification

Fifteen years ago verification of FPGA designs was easy: you only needed a decent gate-level simulator to verify a circuit containing several thousands of logic elements. As the size of FPGAs started to grow, so did the complexity of the designs implemented in them.

Over time, hardware description languages sneaked into schematic designs and eventually replaced schematic entry.

Today, it is quite common that FPGA users have to deal with more than one language in their designs (e.g. original sources in VHDL with some IP core in Verilog). At earlier stages of the design … Read More → "The Challenges of Modern FPGA Design Verification"

Mod Modules

Why do we choose FPGAs? Usually because we want to get our design to market faster, cut our design cost and risk, and have more flexible, versatile products at the end. Because the process of customizing the FPGA is getting increasingly efficient, the development of a working board is rapidly becoming the long pole in the tent of our design process. Today, design teams are spending as much time getting the FPGA to work properly on the board and connected to the outside world as they are on any other major phase of the process.

Wouldn’ … Read More → "Mod Modules"

Programmable Analog for Platform-Based Design

System platform-based design(1) is one of a number of high-level initiatives to tackle the spiraling problems of design complexity, hardware/software integrity and cost. The approach aims to stratify a system design problem into bite-size layers. It also aims to deliver higher, unified abstractions from existing digital EDA flows. Each platform must:

-map an instance in an (upper) application space to another in a (lower) architecture space
-communicate constraints between these spaces in forms suitable to each
-package the application solution in a form suitable for … Read More → "Programmable Analog for Platform-Based Design"

Board Room

The contest begins. On the left side of the hall (the “blue” corner), the FPGA design team iterates through the design loop with their high-performance design tools, looking for the optimal placement to reach timing closure. As paths are probed and placements are optimized, it becomes apparent that the problem is the pin assignment. After swapping a few I/O constraints around and re-running place-and-route, the design clears timing analysis with flying colors. Positive slack for all!

On the right side of the hall (the “red” corner), this is all bad news. The … Read More → "Board Room"

Powering FPGA-based Boards

Increased gate counts and higher clock speeds in programmable logic ICs have resulted in higher current requirements while smaller device geometries are driving lower core supply voltages. Simultaneously, new communications and memory technologies (DDR, DDR2) are requiring additional new supply voltages. Table 1 shows this low voltage trend in the generational progression of Xilinx FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays).

Table 1. Voltage Requirements of Xilinx FPGA Families


Read More → "Powering FPGA-based Boards"

Cyrus Tsui

Cyrus Tsui doesn’t believe in the “Flanking Attack.” He likes the head-on confrontation, even with an entrenched opponent. He’s not intimidated by numbers or humbled by setbacks. He is a true competitor, and has been in the industry long enough to know that the rules of the game change regularly. This month, Lattice Semiconductor, where Cyrus has been CEO for over 15 years, made its most significant strategic announcement in years, challenging industry leaders head-on in what promises to be one of the most aggressive and lucrative battles of the decade for … Read More → "Cyrus Tsui"

DSP for Less


The applications of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) continue to expand, driven by trends such as the increased use of video and still images and the demand for increasingly reconfigurable systems such as Software Defined Radio (SDR). Many of these applications combine the need for significant DSP processing with cost sensitivity, creating demand for high-performance, low-cost DSP solutions.

General-purpose DSP chips and FPGAs are two common methods of implementing DSP functions, although, until now, the choice of an FPGA implementation has been limited to … Read More → "DSP for Less"

Terminology Tango 101

Pay attention now, there will be a quiz.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to pick the best FPGA. Well, more accurately, we’re going to learn how to pick the best FPGA. The actual proof will be left as an exercise for the student. Since we’re engineers, we can’t rely on any touchy-feely stuff. It doesn’t matter who has the coolest name. We don’t even care who’s got the slickest icon printed on top of their BGA packages. We need a formula. … Read More → "Terminology Tango 101"

featured blogs
Jun 19, 2017
Samtec’s FFSD, FFMD Series are micro-pitch, high reliability, high cycle IDC cable assemblies. TIGER EYE™ CONTACT The connector systems incorporate the Tiger Eye™ contact. Tiger Eye is a rugged contact for micro pitch interconnects; it is ideal for high reliabi...