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A Countdown of the 5 Most Interesting FPGA Applications

Posted by John Pallazola

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Sep 18, 2014 2:45:00 PM


buy_fpga_xilinx_distributor     FPGA have been around for a long time. The first chip was designed by Ross Freeman and Bernard Vonderschmitt in 1985. FPGA were thrust into the spotlight as a first step for any bitcoin enthusiast who was considering a hardcore mining operation.

     In addition to bitcoin mining, the following list compiles noteworthy mentions of other FPGA applications.


5)   The Mars Exploration Rover (MER), Curiosity, uses Xilinx FPGA for several applications. Xilinx FPGA are used to capture and relay images of Mars's surface. The FPGA used in the rover are space grade, meaning that the chips are designed to withstand radiation. The FPGA are easily reconfigurable and can be changed from afar. Additionally, the FPGA are also used to control the space rover's intricate landing and descent procedures.
4)   For the longest time, a nuclear power plant's instrumentation and control had been maintained using microprocessor technology. Today, the nuclear industry is moving towards using FPGA. FPGA are much simpler to use, are testable, and can easily pass qualification standards - compared to microprocessor systems.
3)   Xilinx Artix 7 AEC-Q100 FPGA are used in a number of automotive-related applications. FPGA are used to maintain advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), in-vehicle infotainment, and driver information. FPGA play an important role in ADAS by processing images, detecting persons and signs, and protecting passengers using lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring, and traffic jam assistance.
2)   FPGA are usually equipped with anti-tamper technology. If an attempt is made to reverse-engineer the chip, the FPGA will self-destruct. Or if the device falls into the hands of a counterfeiter, this feature will make it difficult to produce duplicates. FPGA are also equipped with cryptography technology. If a device that uses FPGA falls into the wrong hands, this prevents the culprit from extracting the information contained within it. This feature is valuable in military applications. Xilinx's third generation Virtex 6Q is specially manufactured as defense-grade, suitable for mission critical applications.
1)   FPGA are used to speed-up the conversion of radio frequency signals into decipherable information. The key word here is speed-up, and the process is crucial in operations that focus on national defense. The system has been applied at the U.S. Joint Counter RCIED (Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device) Electronic Warfare system or JCREW. The JCREW responds to any signals from cell phones, garage door openers, and other handheld devices that can be used to detonate a makeshift bomb. Once JCREW detects the signals, they send out a jamming signal intended to prevent the detonation. The process is extremely time-sensitive and state-of-the art FPGA is needed to convert, filter out background noise, and process the radio frequency signals as quickly as possible. 

     Compared to ASICs and CPLDs, FPGAs are more attractive because they can be reprogrammed, have a shorter lead time, and have lower non-recurring engineering costs.


     The main drawback is the price tag.

How do you buy FPGA for a fraction of the Franchised price tag? 

altera fpga

     This is a dilemma that you face with every new project. It doesn't matter if you are working in your company's purchasing department or if you are a cryptocurrency enthusiast constrained by a budget. The goal is to purchase FPGAs for the lowest available price.

     Unfortunately, many FPGA buyers face two problems:

  1. Long lead-times: Typically, if the majors allow you to buy from them you could be faced with a 2-3 month lead-time before you will see your parts.

  2. Pricing: Some buyers are only interested in purchasing lower quantity FPGA for prototyping and R&D. However, Franchised distributors of Altera and Xilinx parts - such as Avnet and Digikey - are compelled to sell using a tiered pricing system, meaning that these customers receive no discount whatsoever.

     The large volume buyers get massive discounts on their FPGA. The lower volume users like those buying for FPGA projects, R&D, and NPI buyers are left paying top dollar and waiting for long lead-times.

Xilinx distributor

     As a top independent distributor of FPGA, FPGABuy can offer authentic parts for far below the pricing that the franchised Xilinx distributors and Altera distributors do. Always in the original manufacturer's packaging and guaranteed for Fit, Form, and Function by an Inc. 5000 Company. Most parts are excess from companies that purchase in large volume at the lower price then have surplus when their project is completed. 

     Here is a typical example of an actual part you can buy from FPGABuy at a 46% savings:



DIGIKEY  $8,317.98  3 MONTHS


     If you are in the market for FPGA, search our part library.

     FPGABuy is a brand of EarthTron LLC, added to Inc 500|Inc. 5000's list of fastest growing companies for 2012.

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Topics: FPGA

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