Field Programmable Gate Array technology, shortened to FPGA technology, is a computer-related element that has become increasingly popular in the last five years. While it was initially launched in the 1980s by Xilinx, Inc., the demand in FPGAs has only been noticeable in the 21st century with a great focus on the product in recent years. According to a simplistic definition, the FPGA is a type of interface chip that is used to replace application-specific integrated circuits in different components. This article will provide more information on FPGAs and answer the question of what exactly an FPGA board is.
What Exactly Is An FPGA Board?
As is mentioned above, the FPGA is a type of integrated circuit that is used for programming an fpga specific integrated circuits in different components. This item contains numbers programmable logic blocks with reconfigurable interconnects that wire the blocks together allowing them to form different configurations. For example, logic FPGA blocks can be configured to perform all manners of tasks ranging from simple logistic activities to more complicated combinational functions. This ability to replace different circuits, similar to stem cells, is why the FPGA board is growing in demand throughout various industries.
What Is The History Of The FPGA Board?
The FPGA industry originated in the 1980s when only programmable logistic devices and read-only memory components were available for hardware application. During the late 1980s, the Naval Services funded a proposal to develop a computer that would introduce over 500,000 reprogrammable gate arrays. This experiment was successful, and the FPGA circuit was formed and a patent issued during the early 1990s.
Two of the most prominent figures in the FPGA development are Altera and Xilinx. Xilinx co-founders invented the first viable field-programmable FPGA in 1985, while Altera was the first reprogrammable device within the industry. Both of these names quickly grew in the decade following 1985 and felt significant stock market growth. This growth moved in an upward trajectory for several years and by 2010 Xilinx and Altera represented approximately 75% of the FPGA market.
During the 1990s, FPGA circuits were typically used in the communication and networking industry. However, by the end of the decade and entering the 21st century, FPGAs began to be applied to the automotive, consumer, and industrial sectors.
One of the more recent trends in FDGA technology is to combine the logic blocks and reconfigurable interconnects in a traditional FPGA circuit with embedded microprocessors to form an overall system using a programmable chip. This option is similar to the 1982 architectural design developed by Hana Potash and Ron Perlof from the Burroughs Advanced Systems Group. The design combined reconfigurable computer processing unit architecture onto a single chip known as the SP24.
A second approach to utilizing hard-macro computer processors is through application of soft processor cores implemented within FPGA circuits. The majority of modern FPGA components are programmed using “run time” and this leans to the idea of reconfigurable systems. For example, the MicroBlaze and Nios II softcore processors. Furthermore, non-FPGA designs have started to emerge adopting a hybrid approach to the processing cores and using FPGA-like programmable elements on the circuit.
What Are The Different FPGA Features?
The modern FPGA is a circuit presenting with many logic gates and RAM blocks utilized to implement digital computations. This circuit employs speeding IOs with bidirectional data buses and the floor planning assists in allocation of resources within the FPGAs. While a speedy circuit is beneficial, it can be disadvantageous regarding verification of timing for valid data within a setup time. The FPGA does account for this with its floor planning to help meet the time constraints.
One of the most significant features of an FPGA is its ability to implement any function. This facility is beneficial because it reduces the engineering costs from manufacturing and can be placed in all types of applications.
While the majority of the features of an FPGA are digital, some of these circuits have analog features as well. The most common type of analog feature is the programmable slew rate available on the circuits output pin. This allows the developer to set low rates on the lighting loaded pins and set higher rates on more heavily loaded pins. Other common analog features include phase-locked loops with voltage-controlled oscillators utilized for clock management and generation.
It has been reported that some ‘mixed signal’ FPGAs have integrated analog-to-digital convertors on the circuit; thereby, allowing the FPGA to operate as a system available on a chip. This could blur the line between the FPGA and the FPAA questioning the digital values of internal reprogrammable interconnect circuits and analog values of programmable circuits.
What Are The Different Applications?
The FPGA can be utilized to resolve any problems that are computable or computer-related. This is seen in the case of the Xilinx MicroBlaze where the FPGA was used to implement a soft microprocessor. Benefits of this FPGA include the fact that it is faster for application and more optimal in its performance; however, it can be difficult to manage for a person who is unaware of how to utilize the FPGA.
The FPGA was originally a rival of the complex programmable logic device as a means of implementing ‘glue logic’ for printed circuit boards. Based on their smaller size, their increased capabilities, and faster speed, the FPGA soon took over as a more beneficial option for PCBs.
Despite the various applications in today’s society, the FPGA was traditionally used for vertical applications where the production volume is smaller. For these types of applications, the company will pay using hardware for the programmable chip which is more affordable than paying for development resources.
Final Words On The Matter
As can be seen, there are several factors to consider when learning about the FPGA circuit including its history and applications. Using this information you can determine if the FPGA chip is the most suitable device for your computer needs.
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