Custom FPGA Board and Its Technology & Views


Embedded FPGA, an IP core integrated into an ASIC or SoC, is winning converts. System architects are starting to see the benefits of eFPGAs, which offer the flexibility of programmable logic without the cost of FPGAs. Programmable logic is especially appealing for accelerating machine learning applications that need frequent updates. An eFPGA can provide some architects the cover they need to launch products they know will need frequent updating. Field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) traditionally were considered too expensive for most applications and often relegated to prototypes or providing a time-to-market advantage for emerging standards. But the economics are changing. Integrating a reprogrammable fabric into an SoC is increasingly seen as a viable and valuable option.

View of Kent –

You can also look out for custom FPGA board, online. With an eFPGA, you define the quantity of look-up-tables (LUTs), registers, embedded memory, and DSP blocks. You can also control the aspect ratio, number of I/O ports, making tradeoffs between power and performance,” says Kent Orthner, systems architect at Achronix. “At the same time, the industry is embracing heterogeneity. You need different blocks that are good for different things. So you may have a secure block, and this is a place where eFPGAs play well. They can be specialized, but you don’t have to keep it that way.”

Change in Technology –

That changes the economics of FPGA technology. “For many years [programmable logic] was very expensive,” says Joe Mallett, senior product marketing manager for FPGA-based synthesis software tools at Synopsys. “The cost per LUT was high, and to get a usable amount of combinational logic on the silicon was too expensive. The inflection point was somewhere around 40nm, and then the cost per LUT became low enough that you can put enough logic on the SoC or ASIC that it makes sense.

Best use of Embedded FPGA –

It has been more than a decade since 40nm was first introduced. It takes time between when architects have a new tool to consider and manage to wrap their heads around it,” says Geoff Tate, CEO at Flex Logix. Five years ago, embedded FPGA became available. [Architects] never had the opportunity to think about it before then. Over time, with education and understanding, and demonstration that the technology is viable and ready for production, we are seeing architects figuring out how to make best use of the embedded FPGA.

Characteristics –

Some of the characteristics of FPGA are as follows – Product flexibility is seen as the primary application, and the need for this is increasing now that migration to new nodes is slowing. An algorithm mapped into an FPGA fabric can outperform many other processing options while remaining upgradeable. Integration reduces parts count and thus costs. Integration provides additional security and adds flexibility to deal with future threats. eFPGAs can extend product life or enhance business models by being able to upgrade products in the field. A new type of microcontroller that includes an FPGA fabric may be an option in the future.

Moore Law –

Few people claim that the traditional Moore’s Law still applies to most product development. “For a significant number of designs, you don’t need all of the advances of 7nm,” says Frank Schirrmeister, senior group director for product management and marketing at Cadence. “For them, the lesser nodes may be sufficient, and with that the flexibility of an FPGA embedded into an SoC is good.”

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