Application field of FPGA

Table of Contents

Introduction to FPGA

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) was invented in 1985 by Ross Freeman, one of the founders of xilinx. Although other companies claim to be the first to invent the programmable logic device PLD, the first FPGA chip XC2064 in the true sense was invented by xilinx. , This time is almost 20 years later than Mr. Moore’s famous Moore’s Law, but once FPGA was invented, the subsequent development speed is faster than most people’s imagination. In recent years, FPGA has always led the advanced technology.

Application field of FPGA

Advantages of FPGA

Communication high-speed interface design. FPGA can be used for high-speed signal processing. Generally, if the AD sampling rate is high and the data rate is high, then the FPGA is required to process the data, such as extracting and filtering the data, reducing the data rate, and making the signal easy to process, transmit, and store.

digital signal processing. Including image processing, radar signal processing, medical signal processing, etc. The advantage is that the real-time performance is good, and the area is exchanged for speed, which is much faster than the CPU.

greater parallelism. This is mainly achieved through two technologies: concurrency and pipelining. Concurrency refers to the repeated allocation of computing resources, so that multiple modules can perform computing independently at the same time.

Basic Features of FPGA

Three main directions of FPGA applications

The first direction, which is also the traditional direction, is mainly used for high-speed interface circuit design of communication equipment. This direction mainly uses FPGA to process high-speed interface protocols and complete high-speed data transceiver and exchange.

Such applications usually require the use of FPGAs with high-speed transceiver interfaces. At the same time, designers are required to understand high-speed interface circuit design and high-speed digital circuit board-level design, have EMC/EMI design knowledge, and have a good analog circuit foundation. signal integrity issues that arise during the process.

The first and most widely used application of FPGA is in the field of communication. On the one hand, the field of communication requires a high-speed communication protocol processing method. On the other hand, the communication protocol is modified at any time. Therefore, FPGAs that can flexibly change functions have become the first choice. More than half of FPGA applications so far are also in the communications industry.

The second direction can be called the direction of digital signal processing or the direction of mathematical calculation

because to a large extent this direction has gone beyond the scope of signal processing. For example, as early as 2006, the United States has used FPGA for financial data analysis, and later saw a case of using FPGA for medical data analysis.

In this direction, FPGA designers are required to have a certain mathematical foundation, be able to understand and improve more complex mathematical algorithms, and make use of various resources within the FPGA to turn them into actual operational circuits. At present, the fields of wireless signal processing, channel coding and decoding, and image signal processing in the communication field are really put into practice. Research in other fields is underway.

As many PhDs in electrical engineering and computer science in Europe and the United States have transferred to the financial industry to carry out financial signal processing, the mathematical computing functions of FPGAs in other fields will be brought into full play.

The third direction is the SOPC direction. In fact, strictly speaking, this is already within the scope of FPGA design, but it is just the underlying hardware environment of an embedded system built on the FPGA platform, and then the designer mainly embeds on it. Just software development. The design is fairly minimal when it comes to the design of the FPGA itself. But if it involves the need to do special algorithm acceleration in FPGA, the knowledge of the second direction is actually needed, and if you need to design a dedicated interface circuit, you need to use the knowledge of the first direction.

As far as the current SOPC direction is far from the first and second directions, the main reason is that SOPC is mainly based on FPGA, or a “soft” processor is implemented in the resources inside the FPGA, or a “soft” processor is embedded in the FPGA. processor core.

However, most embedded designs are based on software. Based on the existing hardware development, the interfaces in most cases have been standardized, and it does not require such large FPGA logic resources to design complex interfaces.

Moreover, it seems that the development tools related to SOPC are still very imperfect, and various embedded processor development tools represented by ARM have already been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. Most SOC chips with ARM as the core provide most of the standard interfaces , A large number of series of single-chip microcomputer/embedded processors provide hardware acceleration circuits required by related industries, and there are indeed very few occasions that require special customized hardware.

It is usually in some special industries that there is a very urgent need in this regard. At present, Xilinx has embedded the hard core of ARMcortex-A9 into FPGA, which will greatly promote the development of embedded in the future. However, don’t forget that many old-fashioned 8-bit microcontrollers are still mixed in the embedded field. The difference in hardware is more reflected in the difference in software.

Application areas of FPGA

1. The field of data acquisition and interface logic

A. Application of FPGA in the field of data acquisition

Since most of the natural signals are analog signals, the data acquisition function should be included in the general signal processing system. The usual implementation method is to use an A/D converter to convert an analog signal into a digital signal and send it to a processor, such as a single chip microcomputer (MCU) or a digital signal processor (DSP) for operation and processing.

For low-speed A/D and D/A converters, a standard SPI interface can be used to communicate with the MCU or DSP. However, high-speed A/D and D/A conversion chips, such as video Decoder or Encoder, cannot directly interface with general-purpose MCU or DSP. In this case, FPGA can complete the glue logic function of data acquisition.

B. The application of FPGA in the field of logic interface

In actual product design, data communication with PC is required in many cases. For example, the collected data is sent to the PC for processing, or the processed results are sent to the PC for display. There are abundant interfaces for communication between PC and external systems, such as ISA, PCI, PCI Express, PS/2, USB, etc.

Traditional designs often require dedicated interface chips, such as PCI interface chips. If more interfaces are required, more peripheral chips are required, and the volume and power consumption are relatively large. After adopting the FPGA solution, the interface logic can be realized inside the FPGA, which greatly simplifies the design of the peripheral circuit.

In the design of modern electronic products, memory has been widely used, such as SDRAM, SRAM, Flash and so on. These memories have their own characteristics and uses, and a reasonable selection of the memory type can achieve the best price/performance ratio of the product. Since the function of the FPGA can be completely designed by itself, it is possible to implement controllers for various memory interfaces

C. The application of FPGA in the field of level interface

In such a mixed-level environment, if the interface is implemented with traditional level-shifting devices, the circuit complexity will increase. Using the feature of FPGA to support multi-level coexistence can greatly simplify the design scheme and reduce the design risk.

2. The field of high-performance digital signal processing

The fields of wireless communication, software radio, high-definition image editing and processing have put forward extremely high requirements on the amount of calculation required for signal processing. The traditional solution is generally to use multiple DSPs in parallel to form a multiprocessor system to meet the needs.

However, the main problem brought by the multi-processor system is that the design complexity and system power consumption are greatly improved, and the system stability is affected. FPGA supports parallel computing, and the density and performance are constantly improving, which can replace traditional multi-DSP solutions in many fields.

For example, implement the high-definition video encoding algorithm H.264. Using TI’s 1GHz DSP chip requires four chips, while using Altera’s StraTIxII EP2S130 chip only needs one to complete the same task. The implementation process of FPGA is similar to the front-end design of ASIC chips, which is conducive to importing the back-end design of chips.

3. Other application fields

In addition to some of the above application fields, FPGA also has a wide range of applications in other fields.

(1) In the field of automotive electronics, such as gateway controllers/vehicle PCs, telematics systems.

(2) Military fields, such as secure communications, radar and sonar, electronic warfare.

(3) Test and measurement fields, such as communication test and monitoring, semiconductor automatic test equipment, general instrumentation.

(4) In the field of consumer products, such as monitors, projectors, digital TVs and set-top boxes, and home networks.

(5) Medical fields, such as software radio, electrotherapy |, life sciences.

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