EEVblog #496 – What Is An FPGA?

EEVblog #496 - What Is An FPGA?

What is an FPGA, and how does it compare to a microcontroller? A basic introduction to what Field Programmable Gate Arrays are and how they work, and the advantages and disadvantages. FPGA…

25 Responses

  1. toshineon says:

    I saw someone that programmed a FPGA to run NES games, presumably through
    some type of emulation. How that is possible, I do not know. I’m still not
    sure I understand FPGAs.

  2. Guillem Puche says:

    What is an #FPGA?

  3. tigox brata says:

    If they are so extensive to understand how come there are people who can
    “easily” program them?

  4. Kameko K says:

    Man I know how impractical this would be in consumer products, but can you
    just imagine a lisp-based OS running on this, modifying it’s own software
    and hardware while it’s running. Unlimited potential.

  5. A. R. Jasso says:

    Pal16v8. If you know what this is, you are oooold. And yes, every single
    FPGA out there must vow down to its granpa

  6. Anis HADDAD says:

    Very interesting presentation i like it (y) , thank’s a lot

  7. EveryThirdNotThursday says:

    One more aspect of FPGAs that should be discussed more is this:
    FPGAs are well suited for digital processing tasks that are very
    repetitive, well defined, and need consistent timing. The more iterative
    and deterministic the processing task is, the more efficient it will run in
    an FPGA. This includes things like digital filters, signal processing,
    image pixel manipulation, pattern search tasks, etc. CPUs are best suited
    for complex abstract and arbitrary processing, where there are many layers
    of rules, execution paths, and decision points.

    When building something like an advanced sensor processing system, you
    typically want an FPGA at the front end performing all of the high speed
    time critical signal processing, filtering, sample reduction, buffering,
    and staging. Once the data is processed and organized by the FPGA, then
    pass it on to a CPU ( or DSP ) for all of the abstract processing, like
    calibration, pattern categorization, interpretation, communications, file
    and data management, fault detection, and general system operations.

    FPGAs tend to want tight, rigid, and consistent processing tasks, which it
    can tear through at high speeds. CPU’s and DSPs can better handle the
    messy miscellaneous system tasks and conditional processing.

  8. Randy Lott says:

    At my previous job, we used an Altera Stratix IV GT. It’s 22,000 USD for a
    single chip.

  9. Kilgoras Trautas says:
  10. ElectronicBob says:

    very well explained….thank you !!!

  11. Peter Friedman says:

    The sheer energy and enthusiasm in this video is just exemplary beyond
    measure. I think there’s something to be said for claiming that ‘if you
    imagine that a proportion of viewers might find it overwhelmingly intense,
    that’a not necessarily a bad thing for certain kinds of material’. There is
    an unmistakable impression of a wealth of in-depth and up to date knowledge
    and extensive valuable experience which sits behind the talk, combined with
    a serious commitment to helpfulness (evident in the on screen corrections
    and tips) that makes this video something that I intend to use as an
    instructive example of how to tackle an introduction to a difficult
    technical subject. Thanks and bravo Dave.

  12. Michał Kaczmarek says:

    Dave, Lattice has nice CPLDs/FPGA MachXO2 & 3 family which are available in
    nice packages like TQFP ;)

  13. OmegaString says:

    Excellent Video! Thanks!

  14. Stephen Platt says:

    This is a good overview of FPGAs. Dev kits are a very good way to get
    started with them and for simple designs the schematic capture entry method
    is a good starting point. For anything more complex, HLD entry is required
    and once learnt, is far more intuitive. As Dave says, there are many pit
    falls with HLDs that can end up with the wrong or slow logic being
    generated if you are not careful so the important thing is to simulate,
    simulate and simulate again. I design with both Altera and Xilinx. Xilinx
    have the more capable chips but Altera have the better tools. Terasic who
    make a lot of the Altera dev kits have some great boards with lots of
    peripherals and some even have Arduino headers.

  15. Mikael Ohlsson says:
  16. Simon Mason says:


  17. toufik usto says:

    i liked the video qnd thqnks for the nice description 

  18. therealnightwriter says:

    Great vid.

  19. E.TexasTesla says:

    They say we get access to new tech years after the military had it. The
    fact that this chip goes blank on power down would make a drown almost
    impossible to reverse engineer. Ultimate security future.

  20. 115327 says:

    very good, thanks, and liked your stamp shirt

  21. RocketRich says:

    Hi Dave, I find your tutorials useful and always helpful. Could you do a
    little bit on how to map sequential logic and how to implement this on a
    fpga? Some state diagrams would be helpful.

  22. zeilja says:

    I liked how enthusiastic Your talk is, now checking other Your videos.
    Thumbs up, mate! ;)

  23. Jetset Willy says:

    FPGAs are good for prototyping not mass production but its a must to have
    it in your labs

  24. pepe6666 says:

    that was an incredibly educational video. fpgas were confusing for me but
    you’ve explained it & now I understand the ins and outs. thanks heaps for
    putting in the time to do this.

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