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Embedded Systems Design Using FPGA

FPGA Embedded Systems

According to Intel, in the next ten years, the healthcare market will focus on early diagnosis, digitized patient information that can be accessed from numerous locations, and “total solution” selling that contributes to healthcare productivity gains – all with the help of FPGA enabled medical equipment.

FPGA in a Nutshell

FPGA stands for field-programmable gate array. It is an integrated circuit that implements code in hardware to execute a thousand times faster than in a processor. These circuits, or arrays, consist of configurable logic blocks (CLBs), memory, or other elements.

For comparison, an ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) can only do its specific function task and does not permit reprogramming or modification, whereas an FPGA is programmed by connecting thousands of reprogrammable blocks.

ASIC chip technology is typically used in electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones, and TVs while FPGA covers a more versatile range of applications that are made in lower volume — from equipment for video and imaging, to circuitry for computer, auto, aerospace, and military applications, in addition to electronics for specialized processing and more.

Embedded Systems Design with FPGA

Low End FPGAs

Designed for low power consumption, low logic density, and low complexity per chip. Examples include:

  • Spartan family from Xilinx
  • Cyclone family from Intel
  • Mach XO/ICE40 from Lattice Semiconductor
  • Fusion Family from Microsemi.

Mid-Range FPGAs

Designed for optimum solution between the low-end and high-end FPGAs, balancing performance and cost. Examples include:

  • Arria from Intel
  • IGL002 from Microsemi
  • Artix-7/Kintex-7 series from Xilinx
  • ECP3 and ECP5 series from Lattice semiconductor.

High End FPGAs

Designed for logic density and high performance. Examples include:

  • Virtex family from Xilinx
  • Speedster 22i family from Achronix
  • Stratix family from Intel
  • ProASIC3 family from Microsemi

Current Applications

FPGAs boast rapid growth over the past decade due to their wide range of applications they can handle. For example, it has become a major subject of research and utilization in biomedical engineering like a wireless body sensor network, diagnostic imaging, electromedical segments, cardiac management, genomics/life science, hardware acceleration, and architectures, and more.

Other specific FPGA applications include ASIC prototyping, digital signal processing, device controllers, software-defined radio, computer hardware emulation, random logic, integrating multiple SPLDs, cryptography, filtering, and video processing, voice recognition, and communication encoding, and many more.

What’s in it for Product Designers and Manufacturers?

Embedded systems with FPGAs are on the rise, offering a flexible, low-risk path to successful system design — boasting good cost efficiencies along with value-added capabilities and long-life cycles for diverse applications as noted above. Because a device function can be changed by entering a new code, an FPGA-based product can be revised in production more quickly than other devices. The cost is reasonable for low and moderate volume applications. The market potential is huge, making it a suitable avenue to offer products to various industries for product designers and manufacturers. Learn more about embedded systems and FPGA development.

End Note

Service providers like Voler Systems with FPGA design expertise are vital for businesses looking to develop or manufacture FPGA designs for their devices and solutions. Voler helps product designers build FPGA-based electronic products for medical devices, image and video processing, high-speed memory interfaces. System integration, architecture development, design optimization, and coding in VHDL, Verilog, and other tools.

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