For years, we’ve talked about how FPGAs have the potential to accelerate digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms, producing higher performance with lower cost and lower power consumption than traditional DSP processors*. Whoa! Did you see that – the asterisk at the end of that claim? It’s true, though. Using the parallel computing capability of a typical DSP-enabled FPGA (one with hardware multipliers, MACs, or DSP accelerators) you can get tens to hundreds of times the throughput of a DSP processor running the same algorithm in compiled C code*. Hey! There it was again!
Innovations within one domain of electronic product design typically have an unforeseen impact on other areas. For instance, innovation within FPGA devices that has enabled increased functional complexity and I/O performance has introduced challenges downstream during PCB design. Increased functional complexity has resulted in increased I/O pins per device and increased package pin density. In addition, increased I/O performance has resulted in a tighter set of PCB interconnect constraints to minimize degradation of high-speed signals as they travel between devices. The ability to leverage FPGA I/O flexibility to optimize FPGA/PCB performance offers significant value, … Read More → "Design Challenges Flow Downstream"
Content and concept are an interesting combination. People read FPGA and Structured ASIC Journal each week to learn from its content – articles, announcements, analysis, advertisements, and alliteration — all of them working together to inform and entertain engineers interested in programmable logic and structured ASIC design. Interestingly, it turns out that there’s a lot we can learn about programmable logic from FPGA Journal’s concept, too. That’s because FPGA Journal is to technical publications what FPGAs are to system design – highly flexible, fast to market, field programmable, field upgradeable, and at … Read More → "Field Programmable Journalism"
Engineering, we would argue, falls closer to the right-brain domain. While we technically-trained engineers may have always associated ourselves more closely with the study of science, our discipline actually has more in common with art. Mobile phones, MP3 players, and digital cameras are hardly universal truths waiting to be discovered. Those devices and systems are incremental evolutionary steps atop innovative ideas hatched by the creative minds of engineers. While we engineers are always trying to solve problems, the nature of our solutions is often well-distilled creativity. A problem may represent a universal truth, but normally an optimal solution does … Read More → "The Art of Embedded Design"
Geologic time is difficult for humans to visualize. Great continents slamming into each other with epic force, reshaping the earth’s surface, don’t seem so impressive when the movement is slowed down to an almost imperceptible rate. The only time we notice the effect is when transients like earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions hint at the unwavering determination of the underlying forces. As electronic designers, however, we have some facility in dealing with alternate orders of magnitude in the time scale. We understand that nanoseconds and milliseconds are worlds apart, even though, as humans, we can& … Read More → "Tale of the Tools"
The truth is, our fifth-grader has become the equivalent of a live-in Support Desk. True, my husband and I are the designers of the entertainment system. We did all the research and navigated the DLP, plasma, HDTV decision process. We determined the optimal configuration for the accompanying sound system, exercising liberal design reuse (read: we kept our old stereo equipment). But our kid is the one who has really taken the time to make everything sing. He challenges the performance potential of the system and identifies bugs (he’s the one who figured out the work-around for our & … Read More → "Remote Possibilities"
In the rough-and-tumble, day-to-day, my-chip’s-bigger-than-your-chip schoolyard scrap that characterizes the top tier of the FPGA industry, a glimpse of vision, long-term insight and strategy are a rare breath of fresh air. We often feel that the two toughest competitors in the business spend too much time staring each other down and not enough time strategizing on how to conquer more of the vast landscape of logic design opportunity waiting patiently at the forefronts of their fiefdoms. However, when we sat down this week with Danny Biran, Altera’s Vice President of Product and Corporate Marketing, vision … Read More → "Altera Looks Forward"
Every year, FPGA and Structured ASIC Journal has conducted a survey of design teams that have recently completed projects using FPGAs. We collect and analyze a large volume of responses from readers regarding their completed projects, and we publish and sell a detailed report to companies that have a vested interest in gathering data about the current behaviors of FPGA design teams. This is nothing unusual, as many media companies perform similar research and offer similar studies to their customers. This time, however, we noticed one thing that was unusual. There seems to be a shift that … Read More → "Bundling Performance"
If all of this is seems a bit confusing, you might want to re-read part one of this series – “Tyranny of the Metaphor,” (read) where we discussed the problems with planning software projects using conventional methods like PERT charts and Gantt diagrams. This time, however, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and start solving the problem one piece at a time. As with almost any good therapy, we need to look deep inside ourselves first. As a group, … Read More → "Tyranny Take Two"