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The Case for Embedded FPGAs Strengthens and Widens

By Brian Bailey, Semiconductor Engineering | Feat. Tobias Welp, Engineering Manager, OneSpin

Combining the flexibility of a FPGA with the performance and cost benefits of an SoC is pushing this technology well into the mainstream.

The embedded FPGA, an IP core integrated into an ASIC or SoC, is winning converts. System architects are starting to see the benefits of eFPGAs, which offer the flexibility of programmable logic without the cost of FPGAs.

Programmable logic is especially appealing for accelerating machine learning applications that need frequent updates. An eFPGA can provide some architects the cover they need to launch products they know will need frequent updating.

Field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) traditionally were considered too expensive for most applications and often relegated to prototypes or providing a time-to-market advantage for emerging standards. But the economics are changing. Integrating a reprogrammable fabric into an SoC is increasingly seen as a viable and valuable option.


Machine learning is adding some new requirements into products. “FPGA fabric may be added to SoCs to enable variations in the engines and processors with domain-specific instruction sets,” points out OneSpin’s Welp. “In some cases, it may be possible to map algorithms for machine learning and other key applications into hardware and later refine the design as the results improve.”


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