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What Is FPGA And Why Should You Care?

FPGA is an acronym for Field-Programmable Gate Array. However, this might be a mouthful to many hence to smoothen things over, let us look at a simple definition. Essentially, FPGA represents a simple hardware circuit which you can easily program to execute certain functions. Moving on, we can still describe FPGAs as IC or integrated Circuits. ICs are simply circuit sets found on various chips. These array or circuits encompass a set of programmable memories, logic gates, and other components that work jointly. However, these features barely scratch the surface regarding the efficiency of FPGAs. So what makes FPGA unique?

Get to Understand About FPGAs

Most standard chips like the pretty popular intel Curie, which is found in Arduino boards and laptops, come fully baked. That means that you cannot re-program the chips to alter their operations. Instead, you get your chip and work with it as it is.

When working with standard chips, you simply load a specific software onto your chip and then utilize it to execute various functions. Later on, you might decide to delete or replace the software, but the chip’s hardware remains the same.

On the other hand, FPGAs are totally different because they do not involve the utilization of chips. Instead, you simply program the hardware circuits to carry out your operations.

FPGA programming can involve the utilization of a logic gate (An OR or AND Function). It can also include one or even many complex functions, which include functions that act as multi-core processors when utilized together.

Why should you work with a Field Programmable Gate Array?

FPGAs let you optimize your chip to handle a high workload. You can hence achieve optimum outputs when working with these chips. What’s more, FPGA also lets you make later alterations at the chip level to achieve the outputs that you desire. With this type of flexibility, you can make incredible alterations. For example, you can alter your machine’s power and memory utilization via FPGA to save up on resource utilization. That can be a total lifesaver for your gadget.

FPGAs are pretty useful when it comes to prototyping ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) or Processors. That is because you can re-program an FPGA until you achieve a final, bug-free Processor or ASIC that you can mass produce.

FPGAs to the world

To better understand FPGAs and how they work, how about we look at some real-world examples.

In our first example, let us look at a simple car camera that utilizes a microprocessor and take about 250 milliseconds to:

  • Effectively capture an image
  • And then display the image to a driver

If by chance, regulations change such that the government reduces the time taken to carry out this process to 100 milliseconds. Then the owner of the car would be in a lot of trouble. The car would have to undergo nearly impossible and costly alterations to meet the new requirement. However, if the car’s camera was utilizing an FPGA, then implementing these new changes would not be a problem. That is because you can carry out the alterations without implementing new processors or new hardware. That saves you a lot of money. In addition, the time taken to make this alteration is relatively low, making FPGAs pretty efficient.

This should be a pro tip if you own a car sales company. That is because using FPGA; you can easily re-program various cars to meet current emerging requirements.

FPGAs also come in handy in enterprise businesses. Individuals in this area can re-program FPGAs using unique data paths that match particular workloads. These workloads can include:

  • Data analytics
  • Compressions
  • Encryptions
  • Image inferences

What’s more, FPGAs that have undergone optimization tend to utilize power more efficiently compared to CPUs. Hence, they save enterprise businesses a lot of money that would have otherwise gone into power bills.

That fantastic combination of efficiency, performance, and versatility makes FPGA packages pretty appealing.

Applications of FPGAs

Since FPGAs are programmable, they can ultimately fit into a couple of markets producing impeccable outputs. Some markets that are common to FPGA applications include:

Defense and Aerospace

In this market, the government utilizes FPGAs that are radiation tolerant to:

  • Partially reconfigure SDRs
  • Generate waveforms
  • Process images

ASIC Prototyping

Using FPGAs to prototype ASICs can help you achieve accurate and fast SoC system Verification and modeling. It also saves you a lot of money by helping you launch a well-functioning ASIC.

Automotive

FPGAs offer Automotive IP and silicon solutions for DAS (driver assistance systems) and gateways. They also offer in-car infotainment, comfort, and convenience. What’s more, you get to upgrade your car’s requirements to meet current trends.

Consumer Electronics

FPGAs offer affordable solutions, which in turn enable next-gen consumer applications that include:

  • Converged handsets
  • Residential set-top boxes
  • Home networking
  • Information appliances
  • Digital flat panels

Data Center

FPGAs are designed for low latency, high-bandwidth servers, storage, and networking applications. Furthermore, FPGA brings impeccable value to cloud deployment due to their efficiency. Therefore, if you are looking to work in any of these areas, then you should significantly consider utilizing FPGAs.

High-performance Data Storage and computing

FPGAs perform impeccably in terms of data storage and computing. They hence provide an effective and cost-friendly solution for:

  • Storage appliances
  • Servers
  • Storage Area Networks
  • Network-attached Storage

Medical

You can use FPGAs to meet a wide range of I/O interface, display, and processing requirements for therapy, monitoring and diagnostics.

Image and Video Processing

FPGAs offer you more flexibility and ultimately lower your Non–recurring engineering cost. Due to this, you get to boost the quality of your output. You also get to spend more time marketing your product which ultimately earns you more money.

Wireless Communication

FPGAs offer wireless components networking, transport, connectivity, baseband, and RF solutions. What’s more, they also address standards which include:

  • WCDMA
  • HSDPA
  • WiMAX et cetera

Security

FPGAs offer impeccable solutions that companies utilize to solve their security needs. Some applications of FPGA in the security sector include:

  • Application in surveillance systems
  • Application in safety systems

Conclusion

FPGAs are, without a doubt, fascinating and efficient all at the same time. They do not just save you in terms of resource utilization. They go a step further and save you a lot of cash while also helping you cope with emerging trends. Therefore, if you are looking to utilize FPGAs in your project, be sure that you’ll be making an incredible choice. We hope this article has helped you grasp FPGA and why you should try them out.