An FPGA is a field programmable gate array. It is an integrated circuit that can be configured or programmed after a customer purchases it or a designer after it is created at the company. It is normally found in hardware description language (HDL) that is similar to language used for a specific application integrated circuit or an ASIC. The FPGA has a lot of information that can be logical – programmed-blocks of information (logic blocks) and it can be reset to connect or be put together. FPGA’s also is in memory that goes back and forth or more complete or full memory. (1)
What Exactly Is In an FPGA?
Inside the FPGA is logic blocks (known as configurable logic block, CLB, or logic array block LAB), input/output pads and routing channels. (1) Routing channels have the same amount of wires. There are multiple input/output pads within one row in the routing channel. Using these they can create an application in the FPGA that is used to help program the computer.
FPGA’s like the altera stratix 10 have a lot of logic blocks and RAM (random access memory) to complete complex computations in the computer. Due to input/output rates and other various functions going on in the computer, it is hard to validate the timing of data within the time it takes to set up a program and its hold time. In other words, how long do you need the information in that particular logic block in order to run that function in the program in a computer and planning the interior of the computer helps, rather the build in determining the information. This offers the consumer or the computer programmer the ability to re-configure data inside the computer and reload or load a new program that they can use for their daily actions on the computer.
Some FPGA’s have analog functions as well. One function is the electricity that runs through the output of the computer. This function allows a low rate of electricity to run through it allowing the computer to function at high capacity and at an optimum level. Another analog function deals with the running of the clock and its subsequent functions within the computer.
In the late 1980s, the computer world and the business world wanted a computer with a lot of “reprogrammable gates”. This resulted in a patent in 1992 that led to companies to create within the FPGA a soft processor core to use. A soft processor is a microprocessor that can be instituted using a reprogrammable device such as an FPGA or ASIC. The new thing is to take the FPGA that works on “runtime” which lays the groundwork for re-configured systems which change to suit the task at hand. This will act as an accelerant to speed up internal processes in the computer allowing the computer to work faster and more efficient.
The activities or functions that use this type of information are found in your everyday life in portable electronics like your laptop. It can be found in the digital camera. It can be found on your server. It can be found in your ultrasound or the MRI machine at the hospital.
So you see the FPGA is used in our everyday life and it helps the computer programmer or even the layperson who wants to build his own computer to know what it is.