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advantages of using FPGA in final digital designs

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Newbie level 5
Sep 11, 2009
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Hi guys,

While I'm still learning digital design using FPGA a query is bothering my mind.

Why do we need to use FPGA in our final designs?

Ok, i know that FPGAs are perfect for prototyping purposes due to their flexibility in developing various complex combinational functions. But this is useful for engineers inside a prototyping lab only during developing phase, isn't it. Why it is useful to include them in the final project (market level) instead of an ASIC and/or a microcontroller with a flash eeprom combination.
Reconfiguration may someone tell. So does the flash eeprom too. And the customers they never need huge modifications at functionality level.
Speed is another aspect. True, but there are a few high speed microcontrollers/microprocessors out there which can do the trick too.
On the other hand, FPGAs needs a more specific (and thus more expensive) PCB board design with more internal layers.

So, were is the advantage? Am i missing something?

Please comment! I want to hear from you.


Re: Why FPGA?

Well you can always compare FPGA and ASIC's. The key here is ASIC's come in to picture when you want to sell products in millions, as ASIC's are cheap only in mass production.But for products which are going to be manufactured in only 1000's FPGA's hold the key.There are products in the market that uses FPGA's especially the medical products.

Re: Why FPGA?

Hi barath,

Manufacturing an ASIC from scratch in low volumes, i agree, must has an elevated cost. But, is that all? What if we could implement our FPGA based design with already prefabricated ASICs from various vendors. Is it still more cost effective to use
Aren't there any other reasons why using FPGAs instead of ASICs (prefabricated) and/or microcontrollers?


Simple but basic, you may want to keep a design open for upgrades, even if the production quantities are above a "prefabricated" or true ASIC break-even point.

Microcontroller/DSP alternative usage is a different question, for the time being just assume, that some designs don't fit this technology.


FPGA is smart than ASIC

Re: Why FPGA?

Hi FvM,

I think that future upgradings are focusing to some bug fixes and improvements and not at major functionality modifications. So why not to use a micro and a flash eeprom? It's upgradeable too.
If we "upgrade" a design in such a manner that will alter the whole functionality then we speak for another device aren't we?
How convenient is that at a customer level?

Hi leonqin,

What do you mean by "FPGA is smarter that ASIC" ?. FPGAs are as smart as their embedded code. So does ASICs (compared at the same functionality level).

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