The rise of FPGAs has subsided the use of ASIC and CPLD boards. A big reason behind this shift has been the structure of FPGA. They have this innate ability to be programmed and reprogrammed and 2019s what makes the FPGA stand apart from all the other similar technologies. In the recent times, the use of FPGA has been divided into two different paths: one path is the traditional one where engineers are working on cellular infrastructure, commercial aviation, medical industry, and networking industry. Although the use of FPGA in these areas is slowly becoming less popular but they have not been abandoned completely. The second path is the one where FPGA is regularly optimized to make sure that the speed of data center workloads is increased.
The challenge is when the traditional path comes in contact with the modern path and there are various problems that come in the way. The designers that are involved in the traditional path face difficulties while they try to balance low power without having to sacrifice the security and performance of the FPGA board. But with the growing technology in the FPGA field, things have started to look much brighter for the traditional designers. Newer technologies such as transceiver strategies, fabric designs, in-built security measures, and various other significant technologies have made a difference in the working strategy. A big positive that the newer technologies have shown is that they have now made FPGA much more affordable to the people who can only afford mid-range FPGAs.
Introduction of newer technologies
A big step has been taken to manage the power consumption part of FPGAs so that the cost can be made reasonable enough for mid-range FPGAs. SONOS has become the most important technology that has helped in the power consumption process. It is a non-volatile technology that runs on a 28nm node. Compared to the previous FPGAs, that used SRAM technology and consumed a lot of power, the SONOS node is completely different. It is known for its lower power advantage and that has helped to reduce the cost of the FPGAs to a great extent. The traditional FPGAs were also non-volatile but they used 65nm nodes that made them far more expensive.
The charge pumps used in the FPGA boards have also played a crucial role in cutting down the cost. Ideally, FPGAs require 17.5 V to pump if you are using large sized pumps. These generally require a bigger die area because of the size of the pumps that are used. However, with the use of SONOS, the FPGAs now need only 7.5 V for the overall programming. This has made the charge pumps much smaller and the die size has also reduced significantly that has contributed to making the FPGA more cost-effective than ever.
Benefits of SONOS technology
By now you must have got an idea about how the SONOS technology has helped to reduce the cost of FPGAs and make them affordable for everyone. It is now time to see through some more benefits of this technology that has given FPGA a new direction in the electronic industry.
The SONOS technology uses single poly transistor stack that is considered as the main charge storage element. It has also got a Nitride dielectric layer that makes it possible to store the charge. This change in technology has used very little charge and that ultimately uses a small amount of oxide present at the bottom. Another factor that has made SONOS the need of the hour for FPGA is that the charge is stored as it is and does not discharge over a period of time. This happens because the charge is insulated in a nitride layer.
There has been a lot of improvement in the SONOS technology in the last couple of years that has helped the FPGA industry to progress by leaps and bounds. The fact that the mid-range FPGAs have been made available has benefited millions of users to get this technology for their circuits. There have been so many reasons why the combination of SONOS and FPGA has become so clinical. The inclusion of the push-pull cell that contains P-channel NV and N-channel device are the biggest examples of the ever-growing technology.
You will notice a massive change in the speed of data that travel through an FPGA board now. This has been possible because the NV devices do not come in the way of the data-speed path as compared to the traditional FPGAs. Moreover, there is a single transistor system that is used for every data-path switch.
Better fabric designs
Apart from the introduction of the SONOS technology, the improved fabric designs have also been a reason for the success of the modern Xilinx FPGA board. It has helped thousands and millions of devices to meet the required performance and the consumption of power has been one-tenth of what it would normally use had it been the traditional method. The trade-off between performance and power has been one to applaud in the last few developments of the FPGA. The core logic supply voltage has been very measured so that it can perform at its highest level even when using a nominal voltage. That is where the 7.5 V power has come into play.
Previously, metal wire suffered from poor scaling and this affected the performance of the circuit board. But as the technology has progressed, the systems are now using 28nm and much lower wiring resistance instead of 68nm. This has resulted in a far better performance of the FPGA and the circuit board together.
There is no doubt that FPGA is here to stay. The technologies that are being introduced every year to make this system more affordable for people are something that has surprised the experts. With the recent introductions of SONOS and the better fabric designs, it is believed that the future of FPGA is safe. So, if you are one of those who are looking for an affordable FPGA solution, there is a bunch of good news waiting for you.