FPGA Prototyping Trends and Challenges

Executive Summary

As the cost per gate of FPGAs declines, embedded and high performance systems designers are being presented with new opportunities for creating accelerated software applications using FPGA-based programmable hardware platforms. From a hardware perspective, these new platforms effectively bridge the gap between software programmable systems based on traditional microprocessors and application specific platforms based on custom hardware functions. From a software perspective, advances in design tools and methodology for FPGA-based platforms enable the rapid creation of hardware-accelerated algorithms.

Why FPGA Prototyping?

Systems on Chip (SoCs) integrate increasingly complex hardware features with even more complex software applications, which makes validating SoCs a challenging task. FPGA-based prototyping has become an increasingly popular way of validating SoCs, for good reasons: FPGA devices have enough capacity to fit complex ASICs, and run fast enough to interact with real world interface systems(e.g., Ethernet, PCI).
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