FPGA, abbreviated as Field-Programmable Gate Array, is an integrated circuit with some internal hardware blocks that have operator-programmable interconnects to be customized for a specific application. It is easy to reprogram the interconnects, which allows the FPGA to accommodate any alterations made to a design, or it can even support new applications during the part’s lifetime.
The FPGAs have been used in some old devices like Programmable read-only memory and programmable logic devices. These devices mainly were programmed in the field or at the factory, but since they used the fusing technology, they could not be changed once programmed. The FPGA stores its configuration information in a re-programmable device like flash memory or RAM.
Why Use an FPGA?
An FPGA can be used when you need to optimize a chip for a particular workload or when you would need to make some changes to the chip later on. There is a wide range of uses for FPGAs, including equipment for imaging and video, aerospace or circuitry for computers, military applications, electronics used for specialized processing, and more. They are furthermore used for prototyping application-specific integrated circuits. Therefore, until the ASIC or processor design is finalized and is error-free, the FPGA can be used until the production of the final design begins. Intel also uses FPGAs to prototype their new chips.
Another use for FPGAs is in real-time systems, where response time plays a vital role. You will see that usually, in the standard CPUs, the response time is not fixed, and you will get a response after the initial signal is sent. Real-time operating systems play a crucial role in reducing or keeping it in range. However, when a quick response is required, this always falls short. To solve this issue, the requested algorithm needs to be incorporated into the FPGA using combinational or sequential logic to ensure that the response time always comes under milliseconds. When this real-time system is ready, it can be implemented into an FPGA and finally shifted to the manufacturing stage. When an integrated circuit is created in this way, it will be more energy-efficient and much faster.
Other than the uses stated, FPGAs are also used in projects where hardware configuration needs to incorporate some changes and a circuit that can adjust to such changes. FPGA is beneficial when you change your hardware supplier and the new hardware does not have the required interface.
How to Program FPGAs
It is believed that the notion of FPGA programming might be a bit misleading because there is no actual program for running sequentially. This type of programming involves creating a hardware architecture that will complete the requested algorithm and describe it in a hardware description language. However, the building blocks of this algorithm will not be a memory register and series of operations that need to be performed like the standard programs that are executed by CPUs or GPUs. Low-level components are included in FPGAs, such as logic gates, multiplexers, and adders registers. With such features, you can have extraordinary. You can also implement operations that take a lot of time or are very complicated for general-purpose CPUs. For example, block chippers and cryptographic functions are performed by CPUs in many cycles, which takes a lot more time than FOGAs do in such cases. These are some of the many reasons FPGAs are considered an attractive option for many applications.