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Future FPGA Development. Duane McDonald Digital Electronics 3. Introduction.

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future fpga development

Future FPGA Development

Duane McDonald

Digital Electronics 3

introduction
Introduction
  • Seventeen years ago, Xilinx and Altera—now the elders of the FPGA industry—were four and five years old, respectively; Actel was just three. In those days, programmable devices consisted of PALs (programmable array logic devices) and CPLDs (complex programmable logic devices), which were essentially small sets of AND-OR planes plus a few registers to actually create something useful like a state machine.
  • Then Xilinx came up with the SRAM-based field programmable gate array (FPGA) that could hold from 1,000 to more than 5,000 logic gates.
  • Actel quickly followed with its antifuse technology. Antifuse technology produced nonvolatile parts, making designs more secure SRAM-based devices.
introduction cont d
Introduction (cont’d)
  • Altera came next, they developed a toolset that included support for schematics and hardware development languages, a simulator, timing analysis, synthesis, and place-and-route.
  • Zooming ahead to the present day, there are still just a handful of FPGA companies. Xilinx and Altera dominate while Actel, QuickLogic, Lattice, and Atmel each share the remainder of the market with products aimed at specific applications and needs. SRAM is the dominant technology, though antifuse is used for applications where the protection of intellectual property is paramount.
moore s law fueling reprogrammable fpga advances
Moore’s Law Fueling Reprogrammable FPGA Advances

Mature

FPGA Product

Technology

Developing

FPGA Product

Technology

  • Future
  • Process Technology
    • “Traditional Scaling” is starting to be effected by the fundamental material limits of the planar CMOS process
    • “Equivalent Scaling” or the assimilation of new materials, structures and functional integration will drive continued scaling

180 nm

150 nm

130 nm

90 nm

65 nm

45 nm

32 nm

22 nm

8 nm

1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015 2017

architectural evolution fpgas
Architectural Evolution FPGAs

Programmable “System in a Package”

Domain-optimized System Logic

System

Logic

  • FPGA Fabric
  • Block RAM
  • Embedded Registers and Multipliers
  • Clock Management
  • Multi-standard Programmable IO
  • Embedded Microprocessor
  • Multigigabit Transceivers
  • Embedded DSP-optimized Multiplers
  • Embedded Ethernet MACs

Device Complexity and Performance

Platform

Logic

  • FPGA Fabric
  • Block RAM
  • Embedded Registers and Multipliers
  • Clock Management
  • Multi-standard Programmable IO
  • Embedded Microprocessor
  • Multigigabit Transceivers

Block

Logic

  • FPGA Fabric
  • Block RAM
  • Embedded Registers and Multipliers
  • Clock Management
  • Multi-standard Programmable IO

Glue

Logic

  • FPGA Fabric
  • Block RAM
  • FPGA Fabric

2005

1985

1992

2000

2002

2004

platform fpgas
Platform FPGAs
  • The latest trend in FPGAs is the inclusion of specialized hardware in the form of hard cores. Vendors realize that if large numbers of their customers need a particular function, it's cost effective to include fixed cells inside the FPGA.
  • Platform FPGAs, those containing either soft- or hard-core processors, will dominate embedded system designs 15 years from now. For many designs, the advantages of using a single, programmable device that may include multiple processors, interfaces, and glue logic will make it the preferred choice over using today's discrete devices on a printed circuit board.
  • Platform FPGAs are being developed to have a mix of soft- and hard-core processors. Soft cores will be the choice for the least complex designs and for new designs that don't have legacy code to support. Hard-core processors will be the choice for complex designs and for designs that need to run legacy code. High-end designs will use multiple processors, perhaps some soft, others hard.
development tools
Development tools
  • The most significant area for the future lies in the creation of new development tools for FPGAs. As programmable devices become larger, more complex, and include one or more processors, a huge need will open up for tools that take advantage of these features and optimize the designs.
  • Hardware designers can use hardware description languages like Verilog to design their chips at a high level. They then run synthesis and layout tools that optimize the design.
  • As FPGAs come to incorporate processors, the development tools take software into account to optimize at a higher level of abstraction. Hardware/software codesign tools will be a necessity, rather than a luxury.
  • Before long, platform FPGAs containing fixed or configurable processors and custom hardware will dominate the field of hardware design. By then, hardware/software codesign will be the norm.
use in computing
Use in computing
  • Performance of FPGAs as a compute platform exceed conventional processors in all three performance vectors; i/o bandwidth, memory bandwidth and computation. Implementing an effective programming model is the main issue the industry is working hard to solve.
use of soft core processors
Use of Soft core processors
  • An emergent trend is to move from custom-made microprocessors to soft-core processors embedded within FPGAs. This trend has been driven by the long-term supply uncertainties of companies that provide custom-made microprocessors. This uncertainty is due to their inability to take advantage of new process technologies and geometries.
  • Xilinx now offers both a 32-bit soft processor core called MicroBlaze and an 8-bit solution called PicoBlaze.
more on xilinx
More on Xilinx
  • With the Xilinx MicroBlaze soft processor, the designer has the luxury of a different approach. They can now start with a processor core and build the peripheral set to meet their exact requirements. Silicon waste is reduced to zero since the designer will only implement what they need. Software design complexity is reduced because no code need ever be written to disable unwanted processor functionality. The creation of unusual processor configurations, which can be changed at any time to suit changes in the specification, is reduced to a simple task.
  • Even if after ten to fifteen years of field use, when the FPGA hardware might itself be nearing the end of its life, then the soft processor core can simply be dropped into its new FPGA “host” utilizing the same C code and almost all of the same hardware design files as well.
conclusion
Conclusion
  • In conclusion, the industry of FPGAs is rapidly growing with technology being optimized and modified daily by a great number of designers. This is due to the programmability and configurablilty of the FPGA architecture i.e. it is built to be developed not just used.
  • In the future it is quite possible to see all processors, computers and electronic devices being run or at least developed with the use of these amazing devices with FPGAs not being developed as a compute platform and size scaling increasingly reducing every year.
  • It is also important to note that both the hardware and software development stages of FPGAs have become equally important with the two now depending on one another more than ever for quicker advances and better design.
references
References
  • Reconfigurable FPGAs for Space – Present and Future Rick Padovani, Xilinx, Inc. MAPLD 2005
  • The future of programmable logicBy Bob Zeidman, Courtesy of Embedded Systems Programming
  • Comparing and Contrasting FPGA and Microprocessor System Design and DevelopmentBy: Karen Parnell, Roger Bryner
  • Lessons Learned from FPGA Developments Prepared by Sandi Habinc