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Why use an FPGA?

“Please help me do this on an FPGA” The question you shouldn’t ask! A common refrain on many of the internet’s finest help forums and newsgroups is “I’m trying to do x using an FPGA, help!” And very often “x” is a task which would be more optimally (by many …


A while ago I compared Altera and Xilinx’s ARM-based FPGA combos. More information is now available publicly, so let’s see what we know now… One thing that’s hard to miss is that Altera are making a big thing of their features to support applications with more taxing reliability and safety …

FPGAs and ARMs – a summary

[Today, I compared the new combined ARM and FPGA devices](/node/77) from [Xilinx]( and [Altera]( This post summarises that rather long post!


Well, there’s two wacky new series of devices.

FPGAs considered ARM-full

[Xilinx]( and [Altera]( have [both]( [announced]( FPGAs with hard [ARM]( processors on them. Xilinx have even got a new product famliy name (Zynq) for them.

libv has a home

Some of my “useful bits” of library code have lived in `libv.vhd` for a while – I’ve split it off and licensed it with a CC0 license (which means the author disclaims copyright and offers no warranty). It’s [on github]( and I’ll add contributions from anyone who has any!

Either individual functions to add to libv.vhd or great big wodges of useful code (like Jim Lewis’ [randomized testing libraries]( maybe….)

Tool switches

[@boldport]( asked:

[What are your #FPGA design space exploration techniques?](

which he expands upon:

“Design space exploration” is the process of trying out different settings and design methods for achieving better performance. Sometimes the goals are met without any of it — the default settings of the tools are sufficient. When they’re not, what are your techniques to meet your performance goals?

Yet again, the 140 character constraint leaves me with things unspoken….

Version control for FPGAs

[@boldport](!/boldport) recently asked on Twitter what version control software people used on their FPGA designs. I replied that I use [git]( at home and [Subversion]( at work. The reasons why take a bit more than 140 characters, so I’ve written them here!

FPGA Q&A area on stack exchange

For those who don’t know [Stack Overflow](, I recommend having a look round. Web Forums (Fora?) done right. A sensible and easy way of rating questions and answers and questioners and answerers. For the right subjects, a goodly group of knowledgeable people answering them… But mainly on a software theme. Sadly (for me :) FPGAs and HDLs only come up occasionally (but I try and answer when I can). Enter Stack Exchange: