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Debug Dilemma

What goes in software, and what goes in hardware? In most complex digital designs, the answer to this key question will determine success or failure of the architecture of the system. Put the wrong piece in software and performance suffers from overloading the processor. Put the wrong piece in hardware and your cost rises from the additional gates, static power consumption goes up, and flexibility and maintainability of the system drop significantly.

It turns out that the software versus hardware battle is going on in parallel in your design environment as well. With modern FPGA development boards, … Read More → "Debug Dilemma"

FPGAs Supplant Processors and ASICs In Advanced Imaging Applications

Proponents of the Field Programmable Gate Array have fought for years to overcome the “stepping stone” mentality with which the traditionalist engineering community has viewed the FPGA. Used primarily as either an ASIC prototyping platform or as a time-to-market stopgap until the company can produce a processor-based or ASIC-based system, the FPGA has only begun to prove its worth as an end-product solution.

To some extent, the problem has been choosing the right battleground. FPGAs have a very specific set of value propositions which, when taken together, will easily supplant ASICs and processors in the right application. … Read More → "FPGAs Supplant Processors and ASICs In Advanced Imaging Applications"

Fresh Findings

As programmable systems become increasingly complex, a rich ecosystem of technology is growing up to support the diversity of new designs that take advantage of the flexibility and time-to-market advantages afforded by today’s FPGA platforms. Every time the market presents a new opportunity, another startup or established player steps forward with a solution that advances the state of the art. Let’s examine a few of the more recent ones in detail, starting from the beginning of the design process and walking through to the working hardware.

Design Melée Management Read More → "Fresh Findings"

What’s Time to a Pig?

The efficiency expert stopped several mornings in a row on his commute into the city, pulling his car onto the shoulder of the road alongside the farm with the small apple orchard. He watched in amazement, even getting out his binoculars to be sure, as the farmer carefully lifted a full-grown pig out of the pig pen, carried him down the path to the orchard, and then climbed the small step-ladder, lifting the pig over his head and waiting patiently while the pig ate a few apples from the tree. The farmer then returned the pig to the pen, … Read More → "What’s Time to a Pig?"

3rd Party ETA

Why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars on commercial electronic design automation (EDA) tools for your design team when they can get a decent suite of tools almost for free from their FPGA vendor? This question is probably asked daily in design teams around the world. As you might expect, it also comes up every now and then in the strategic planning rooms at EDA companies. The EDA company version of the question has a slight twist, however: “Should we invest millions to develop FPGA tools if FPGA vendors may be giving away similar tools almost … Read More → "3rd Party ETA"

Mad MACs

Maybe you saw them in science fiction movies when you were a kid. Possibly your Hot Wheels toy car collection contained a few as well. You may have even drawn your own on your school book covers. They looked like normal race cars, but a single engine just would not do. Sometimes four, six, or eight huge power plants graced the foredeck, each with eight big straight pipes sticking out the sides like stocky legs on some steel-bodied spider, complete with a Roots blower abdomen and air scoop head. You were never able to understand quite how … Read More → "Mad MACs"

Wim Roelandts

Programmable logic is spreading like a prairie fire across the landscape of systems design. For the past two decades, Xilinx technology has been at the heart of that inferno. From the first, modest FPGAs that integrated discrete logic components to today’s programmable system-on-chip devices, Xilinx has played a major role in the advancement of programmable systems technologies. Wim Roelandts knows that innovation is the fuel that feeds the flames of FPGA’s frantic advance. As CEO of the world’s largest supplier of programmable logic products, his priority is maintaining an environment at Xilinx that encourages and fosters … Read More → "Wim Roelandts"

Destination DSP

As FPGAs have earned greater acceptance as the platform of choice for high-performance digital signal processing (DSP), the design methodology gap between software DSP implementation in DSP processors and hardware DSP implementation in FPGA or ASIC technology has grown increasingly apparent. FPGAs (particularly those with hardware DSP features) offer compelling advantages in cost, performance, and power consumption for super-power number crunching. Getting your ideas into one, however, is still many times more difficult than programming a software processor to do the same thing.

Implementing your favorite algorithm in a DSP processor usually requires a few lines of … Read More → "Destination DSP"

Living in the Product Development

Fiscal Focus

The recent downturn in the semiconductor industry, unprecedented in its magnitude and duration, has forced application specific standard product (ASSP) vendors to improve the fiscal efficiency of their product development processes and capabilities, with the intent of maximizing return-on-investment (ROI). Improving development capability and efficiency will lower non-recurring costs, and will also lower the cost of goods sold (COGS), resulting in improved profitability. Successful ASSP companies understand the fiscal benefit of strong design capability and actively seek opportunities for improvement.

< … Read More → "Living in the Product Development"

Customer-Specific FPGAs

Introduction

The risks associated with ASIC solutions increase in magnitude with the move to smaller process geometries. This coupled with the increase in design complexity is compelling companies to look for viable technology options that offer low unit and total costs, high-level of system integration, wide selection of IP, design flexibility with faster time to market, and no/minimal incremental design or design tool investment. Such alternatives must also avoid the pitfalls of ASICs that include high NRE and re-spin expenses, slow turn around times, and complexity of the design environment and ecosystem, and hidden … Read More → "Customer-Specific FPGAs"

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