Choosing the right FPGA design for the job

Field Programmable Gate Array, or FPGA design, is a tremendously exciting but highly complex area of component engineering, requiring advanced knowledge of embedded firmware.

FPGA programming is nothing new. It was invented in the mid-1980s; however, the new generation of advanced CAD drafting software has seen a powerful line of FPGAs evolve as a result. These are taking over from other Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) designs, including programmable DSPs (digital signal processors).

Each FPGA design that emerges has a larger memory capacity, broader interface, faster speed and higher density than the one before. However, not all designs are suitable for every application, making it difficult for hardware designers using embedded firmware in their products to know which components to place on their engineering BOM (Bill of Materials). To successfully make the right component choice, the PCB designer must have in-depth market information on the FPGA device/s they’ve short listed, with knowledge of component features and market trends, i.e. what other applications is it being used in, and how successfully.

Many FPGA embedded firmware designs have, at their core, a programmable logic device from the component engineering company Xilinx, widely accredited with being the inventor of FPGA programming. Although they are not the only company making FPGA components, they are the most popular. Their latest range of FPGAs each has unique features with respect to power consumption, memory, speed and performance, which must be looked at carefully in order to pick the one best suited to the design in question.

We at Enventure Technologies offer a full range of component engineering services, including firmware development and FPGA design.

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