FPGA Board Basics

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Field programmable gate arrays were originally marketed by the first manufacturers of this technology in the mid-1980s. It was not until the late 1980s and early 1990s that this integrated circuit board technology hit the mass market.

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What Is FPGA?

At its most basic, it is a circuit board that can be manipulated by someone after they buy it. Once it is manufactured, it can be configured in any way an end user desires. This is why these boards are considered to be field programmable. The specific programming is determined by the hardware description language. This is the same language as that which is used in ASICs.

FPGAs have both programmable logic blocks and a hierarchy of interconnects. These can be wired together by the end user. The logic blocks can do simple logic gates or more complex functions. Any FPGA will most likely also have memory elements which are either blocks or simple flip flops.

Today’s FPGAs have large logic gates and RAM. These allow digital computations to be done. FPGAS also use data buses and fast IOs. Today’s have floor planning which helps programmers meet time constraints in their functions. An end user can also manipulate the functionality of the FPGA.

Programmable Aspects

The low cost of the ASIC design allows for more advantages in today’s applications as they are programmed on an FPGA board. FPGAs are still somewhat slower than ASICS. The quality of the board differs from one manufacturer to another.

The main manufacturers that put these boards in the market in the 1990s are still the ones who make the best products today. For fpga boards – Xilinx and Altera are two of the leading manufacturers today and they make up a large market share of almost 60 percent. When choosing a board it helps to go with the leading products.