Why You Should Use An FPGA In Embedded Systems Design

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Last Updated on July 16, 2023 by

Technology is growing massively and that too in all the directions. Talking about FPGA designs for any sort of embedded system, they are getting more significance and attention these days. It is for this reason that they offer a flexible, low-risk road to successful system design. It boasts great cost efficiencies coupled with value-added capabilities and even long-life cycles for different kinds of applications. Since a device function can get changed by entering a new code, an FPGA-based product can simply be revised in production more swiftly than other devices.

Additionally, you cannot miss that the expense is reasonable for low and even moderate volume applications.  For your information, FPGA stands for field-programmable gate array which is an integrated circuit that implements code in hardware to simply perform or execute a thousand times faster than in simple a processor. These circuits, or arrays, include configurable logic blocks (clbs), memory, or other types of elements.

FPGA circuits are quite different from, like Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC), that can just do its specific function task and does not really allow for any reprogramming or modification. FPGA is programmed by simply connecting thousands of reprogrammable blocks. Whereas ASIC chip technology is characteristically used in electronic devices like laptops, smartphones, and even televisions whereas FPGA covers a more versatile gamut of designs for embedded type of systems that are made in lower volume. Such a thing includes equipment for video and even imaging, to circuitry for computer, auto, aerospace, and even military applications, in addition to electronics for specialised processing and much more.

However, make sure that you are not confusing the FPGA with a microcontroller. One of the prime differences between a microcontroller and even an FPGA is that an FPGA does not simply have a fixed hardware structure, while a microcontroller simply does. Where FPGAs encompass fixed logic cells, these, along with the interconnects, may be programmed in parallel by simply making use of HDL coding language.

Why Should You Use fpgas?

FPGAs offer many types of perks in embedded systems that are not really seen or experienced in popular components like mcus or mpus. These components have mostly been used for application development or even to prototype logic implementation on silicon prior to custom chip design. In the present time, they are playing a huge role in production hardware targeting some critical advanced applications. They even offer powerful computer solutions when other components (socs, asics, even application accelerators) are unavailable or do not simply exist. Some of the prime reasons designers consider FPGAs as the prime component in their systems or engineering hardware are like:

  • Hardware-level security
  • High compute density along with lower power consumption
  • Reconfigurable type of hardware
  • High customization as well as parallelization
  • Vendor IP for overall customization

Semiconductor vendors have done a brilliant job of providing and licensing IP for fpgas. Through available types of IP and custom application development, it is definitely possible to create quite a powerful processor that is particular to one application area. Other processor options do not really offer this level of flexibility.

You know what the specialisation available in FPGAs is definitely and highly desirable in applications such as military embedded computing, even edge computing systems in industries such as banking and finance, telecom, aerospace, and even any sort of other area where IP protection is crucial. More advanced systems that should dedicate power to intensive computing tasks, encompassing things like on-device AI and even blockchain, can massively benefit from the specialisation available in fpgas.

Why Use fpgas?

Well, there can be manifold reasons like:

FPGAs are Reconfigurable 

The configurability of your normal FPGA leaves asics simply in the dust. Apart from the hard/soft IP cores that are configured for a particular type of application, the real worth lies in being in a position to reconfigure (and reconfigure again) after installation – something that asics simply cannot do. 

FPGAs can work parallel 

One of the clear perks of FPGAs that make them such a good and versatile tool for working with measurement systems and other type of edge computing applications that demand the processing of a huge amount of data like embedded vision is that they are simply in a position to process in parallel. Cpus/gpus work successively, processing one piece at a time, but with a well-configured type of FPGA you are going to be in a position to simultaneously intake and process the next batch of information before the first batch gets done, giving a low dormancy.  

Optimal Performance per Watt 

You know when compared with a CPU or GPU, you are going to be getting higher performance per watt (though it is nearer when using floating point arithmetic) with an FPGA. This is the low power consumption that can simply be nearly three to 4 times less than simply that of a GPU. The operating expense of an ASIC is far and even away the best, but the high initial cost (sometimes in the millions) does much to offset that. 

FPGAS Perform Time-Critical Processing 

You know what, with the above-mentioned low latency, engineers and developers are in a position to use FPGAs for applications that demand quite time-critical calculations; such as software-defined radio, medical devices, even and mil-aero systems. Once you don’t simply have to wait as long on the processor to finish a calculation, the output can be really much more accurate. Asics have even less dormancy, but again, they are just for a single specific application. For prototyping as well as design, FPGA is the more effectively forgiving choice.  

No sort of OS Overhead 

In case the latency and computational power of a CPU/GPU is going to be comparable to an FPGA, the inside track gets lost by the need of running an operating system. The OS simply brings down the processing cost efficiency, as resources require to be dedicated to it, boosting the power used and even dropping the compute power. 

Conclusion 

To sum up, you should check out these advanced systems for pcb engineering and more. After all, FPGA is getting popular and the first choice of most of the engineers and designers for embedded types of systems.