Electronic Product Design

fpga

FPGA / CPLD Design

Open a world of commercial benefits

The rapid evolution and cost reduction of FPGAs/CPLDs has resulted in their widespread use.

Implementing FPGAs/CPLDs in your electronic product can:

  • Reduce time to market and prototyping costs
  • Increase processing performance
  • Reduce build costs
  • Increase reliability and flexibility
  • Reduce long-term maintenance requirements

We have had many successful implementations of FPGAs in our projects and this greatly enhances our position as future technology roll outs occur. We:

  • Understand FPGA/CPLD benefits and challenges
  • Manage the maths and signal processing
  • Implement them in reliable, workable projects

Click here to experience the difference an FPGA can make.

Our preferred design environment, Altium, richly supports FPGA development.

 

Contact us today to see how we can fulfil your FPGA and CPLD design needs.

We have found that the most cost effective use removes some types of processing from a "regular" micro-processor and transfers them to FPGA instead. This allows incredible flexibility and future proofing, as well as the ability to carry out complex calculations in real-time environments.

But what are they?

CPLDs and FPGAs are very similar technologies but they differ in size, cost and performance. Both are programmable logic ICs capable of performing arbitrary logic functions.

CPLDs = Complex Programmable Logic Device

CPLDs are the smaller family of parts and are typically used to replace 74 and 4000 series logic ICs. A mid range CPLD could typically replace a design with 10 to 100 discrete logic ICs depending on complexity.

FPGAs = Field Programmable Gate Array

FPGAs on the other hand are orders of magnitude more powerful and whilst they can and do replace the functionality of standard logic ICs, they also to have the power to replace microcontrollers, DSP ICs and other complex devices. Being capable of massively parallel operation, their computation performance at lower power consumption is incredibly impressive. Being reprogrammable, design changes are easy to perform without the need to change the board.

 

Read more about how FPGAs work.

Algorithms

Love it or hate it, maths is one of those core subjects that does not hide away in some projects. The problem comes when the real-world signal is not at all in the condition that you need for your product to perform.

The mastery starts from an understanding of the mathematic manipulations that could be applied to the problem. These are extended either by complexity of the first algorithm or by secondary calculations. The secondary or ancillary calculations are derived in the design process to provide constant values that, when used, give an optimum result.

The creation of an algorithm and its constants is a major step to provide you with a precise or even just a workable solution from a signal that may appear to be "a mess".

The next stage of this type of design work involves moving from the 'pure' maths to an implementation that is manageable in the FPGA world.

Signal processing

Some signals measured or sensed from the real-world are more commonly understood and the maths (algorithms) more clearly defined. The world of FPGA development has progressed for many years but its application at affordable prices has been hampered. In part there is the inevitable time delay from new-technology to cost reduction.

Listen to this

Turn up your speakers and click on the image of the chip below to hear the difference our FPGA signal processing has made to this audio file. The file will download and you should get an option to open or save. Choose open and play it.

Lattice FPGA chip half pixellated

The first section has a poor quality ADC, poor quality compression and poor quality DAC. The second section has an improved ADC, improved compression and improved DAC.

 

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Hawkshead Designs Ltd
Unit 3 Mount Pleasant Eco Park
Porthtowan
Truro
TR4 8HL
UK

T: 01209 890 550

E: info@hawksheaddesigns.co.uk

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