The history of FPGA design begins in 1984, when two enterprising semiconductor engineers, Ross Freeman and Bernard Vonderschmitt, founded the company Xilinx; widely accepted as the creator of the field programmable gate array.
Anyone who uses embedded firmware in their mechanical engineering projects will use components sourced from Xilinx, or a company very much like them. As with PCB design in general, FPGA design depends on a bill of materials from specialist manufacturers. Xilinx is one of only a handful of companies in the world specialising in programmable logic devices (PLDs) and system software for CPLD and FPGA designers. CPLDs, or Complex Programmable Logic Devices, are used in simpler PCB designs.
Field programmable gate arrays cross the divide between software and hardware. The PLD at the heart of each array is uniquely programmed by the engineer building the device, i.e. it is programmed in the field rather than at source. This places FPGA devices apart from other types of PLD, which are programmed at the component factory.
FPGA design is used in all areas of technology, including communications, industrial processes, automotive engineering, aviation, defence, consumer products, data processing and digital signal processing. The industry took off with the arrival of powerful new CAD design tools, which revolutionised FPGA technology. Things that were only possible in theory two decades ago are in common use today.
FPGA design and advanced CAD visualisation are not necessarily areas in which the average mechanical engineering company has a lot of expertise. We at Enventure Technologies offer a full range of component engineering services, from hardware design to REACH compliance solutions. We are specialists in FPGA programming.