FPGAs and ARMs – a summary

Today, I compared the new combined ARM and FPGA devices from Xilinx and Altera.

This post summarises that rather long post!


Well, there’s two interesting new series of devices. Both chip families look awesome (that’s not a word I habitually use, unlike in some parts of the internet… consider it high praise :). I foresee all sorts of unforeseen applications (if you’ll forgive the Sir Humphry-ism) enabled by the tight coupling of processor and logic. Can you choose between them? Well, Xilinx’s Zynq has more memory tightly coupled with the processors, maybe a little less on the FPGA side. Zynq also has the XADC, which shouldn’t be overlooked. A single-chip radar processor is feasible with the combination of XADC and large scratchpad. Altera have a more flexible FPGA to processor-memory interface, but Xilinx’s looks eminently good enough. Xilinx have a lot less details published as yet, so there’s no doubt more good stuff to learn from them, and Altera clearly still have things up their sleeves. I’ll update here as more information becomes available.

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