Learn 5 Ways You Can Improve Hardware Functionality Using FPGAs


If your company deals with embedded industrial designs at all, then you know just how crucial programmable logic devices are as components. PLDs have certainly evolved over the course of industrial designs. Where they once provided simple glue logic, many now use FPGAs as coprocessors. This particular technique means that I/O expansion is possible. Many use it to offload either primary digital sensor processor, or DSP, or microcontroller, or MCU, device. This happens in applications ranging from image processing and communications to motor control and I/O modules.

As the complexity of any system increases, using FPGAs means you have the capability to integrate things at lower price points that are possible using other solutions, including ASIC and ASSP options. Whether you use FPGAs as a SoC or a coprocessor, they provide 5 ways you can improve hardware functionality in your industrial applications.

Keep reading into the following paragraphs to learn about each:

1. Enhanced Design Integration:

If you’re involved in the design of any modern industrial systems, then you face quite a few challenges. They can include but are not limited to total system costs, changing standards, system complexity, and performance requirements. One common choice you’ll face is whether or not you use an FPGA as a total SoC solution or as a coprocessor, which might also be known as an I/O hub device or an I/O companion. Fortunately, FPGAs can be combined with conventional host processors together on the same board, with an external host processor doing the system processing. Fixed-function processors do often lack the functionality, performance levels or key interfaces an industrial application needs, but you can offload a processor so you can integrate your system functions into the coprocessor, letting you make design alterations any time that you need to.

2. The Power Of Reprogrammability:

The reprogrammability of FPGA technology means you can support design reuse and keep up with changing standards. Even if your industrial application targets a single solution, quite a few applications still necessitate a different device to handle other features, such as industrial communications. When feature requirements or network specifications change, then you’re usually forced to come up with multiple ways of supporting new features and protocols. That all means every platform needs extra software porting cycles. Even if you’re not that technical, you should know that all of this substantially runs costs up, unless you use FPGAs for communications coprocessing. When your team designs a single communications subsystem, you can change the networking protocols any time they choose, since multiple products can be supported from just one hardware platform. You’ll get even more flexibility if your single FPGA design incorporates the primary control functions with multiple processors and interfaces altogether. This reduced device footprint can save you both physical space and money.

3. The Possibilities Of Performance Scaling:

The processing functions of a primary or host device are critical to any specific industrial control system. If the performance proves to be a design challenge, then being able to scale the processing is something FPGAs can do for you. For instance, you can choose to either use a single external processor with high levels of performance, or you can put multiple embedded processors right inside your FPGA from HTTP://WWW.DIRECTICS.COM. Multicore processors add power where they are needed to avoid data blocks or bottlenecks, although hardware acceleration is another such possibility. You can also add customized instructions right in a processor’s line code highlight which particular processor instructions should be accelerated.

4. Enjoy Protection From Obsolescence:

Compared to other conventional technologies and options, FPGAs dramatically reduce the risks of your products becoming obsolete. In fact, FPGAs can easily have a lifecycle that is double or triple that of other options, as using the other benefits on this list over time can make FPGA industrial applications last up to 15 years in many cases.

This enables a consistent supply of reliable and similar devices, as the mature devices aren’t going to be obsolete anytime soon. If you have high-volume customers needed specific applications, you can fulfill their needs for quite some to come. They might even be asking you for FPGA options, given that they’re getting tired of replacing other technologies more frequently given their shorter service spans. Also, some ASIC designs get swapped out before their day is over, just because they can’t maintain pace with the constantly evolving industry standards or grow to meet the need for new features.

On the other hand, FPGAs serve a broad variety of markets and applications, so they’re cost-effective to make and use for long stretches of time. Supply chains are much easier to keep stable, and you, of course, have the power to update or change your designs at any point that you need to do so.

5. Use Familiar Tools:

Your software team is always going to play a very integral role in your company’s design flow. Fortunately, life is a lot easier for them when dealing with FPGAs, thanks to development tools that are typically GUI-based and very familiar. Standardized operating systems make learning curves easy, as your people can rely on their own applications software experience to the point of running a single FPGA platform, rather than dealing with multiple programs or systems at once. Anyone familiar with Linux is likely to have a leg up on developing your flow and operating systems, given how similar it is to come up with the code for a customized processor. In fact, many FPGA-based processors can support Linux, as well as other open-source operating systems. That not only can save your company money, but it means your hardware and software teams can rely on the active developer communities online that are constantly creating, tweaking, and patching features and applications. It means that product support and development across a lifecycle is much easier to handle.

Now that you have read this article, you know 5 ways that your business can possibly improve hardware functionality using FPGAs. Consider each possibility on its own as it compares to how you currently do things, and then start looking into combining multiple benefits or features together to make the most of things.

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