Tag Archives: HDL

The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right FPGA Board

3rNew to FPGA boards and not sure where to start? The technology world can be a confusing place for beginners and pros alike, and it certainly doesn’t help when everything has an acronym. For instance, learning that FPGA actually stands for Field-Programmable Gate Array is just the first step in acquiring enough knowledge to feel comfortable in choosing the right FPGA Board for your needs. When it comes to integrated circuits, though, there is some basic information that can steer you in the correct direction, simplifying your search.

FPGA Board- What is it?

A field-programmable gate array is simply a customizable group of electronic circuits, like transistors, resistors, and inductors, usually on a silicon board. These electronic circuits allow electric currents to flow through the mechanisms. Oftentimes, these integrated circuits are pre-programmed and the user purchases a specific type of integrated circuit for his purpose. Many other fields and users require a customizable board, in order to meet a specific need. An FPGA Board allows a user to program the circuit after the board has been manufactured.

How can these boards be programmed after manufacturing?

The configurable logic block is the beginning point for any FPGA Board. The logic block uses Boolean functions to create logic gates. Diodes and transistors most commonly comprise the logic gates. Engineers use wires to configure the logic blocks, and in a customizable board, the routing is engineered to the specific use of the Board. The user Application circuits must be created with the correct resources to have a functioning FPGA Board.

In other words, Field-Programmable Group Arrays create specific applications. Different applications require different amounts of logic blocks. Common applications for FPGA Boards include military uses like missiles and munitions, and aerospace defense; medical uses, industrial imaging, and security functions. Nearly every industry requires the use of a programmable board at some level.

Knowing how to choose the FPGA board for your use.

It can be tricky trying to determine which Board suits your particular needs. There are FPGA Boards that can be reprogrammed as your purpose and need for the Board evolve and change. Other boards are classified as OTPs, or One Time Programmable boards. These circuits require the user to program the board just once. The circuitry will not change once the Board has been programmed. If your use requires the ability to reprogram, consider whether you will require the function of remote programmability. This is an option as well.

The advantages to choosing a Field Programmable Group Array generally include a shorter time to market and lower non-recurring engineering costs. As stated earlier, the ability to make repairs and reprogram the Board is helpful for those who work in the field and need to adapt the application. FPGAs have also been known to work especially well for vertical applications.

A user needs to be able to use a hardware description language, known as an HDL. There are several appropriate HDLs for users to choose between, but the languages are largely dependent upon the function of the Board. The language, among other choices in programming a board, can be confusing for a beginner or for someone new to FPGAs. Finding a great company to help configure the FPGA to suit your needs is crucial to the process.