Accelerated System Design using FPGA Based System-On-Modules (SOM)

Accelerated System Design using FPGA Based System-On-Modules (SOM)

Accelerated System Design using FPGA Based System-On-Modules (SOM) discusses the advantages of incorporating Miniaturized, Reconfigurable and High-Performance Modules for the efficient design of high-quality Embedded Systems. The state-of-the-art in SOMs provide for reconfigurability and scalability, saving costs and optimizing performance for high-end embedded-system design. This article examines the concepts and impacts of using highly integrated control, signal and data processing electronics in a variety of applications.


Miniaturized, powerful, reliable, flexible are some of adjectives that come to mind when describing the state-of-the-art in Electronic devices todayPOV-statement|date=April 2008. The amount of processing power and capability available per square inch of silicon has increased dramatically and will continue to increase. Every new technological innovation leads to higher performance and lower-cost. This paradoxical relation is what Moore predicted.

In a quest for beating the competitor it has become increasingly and unavoidably necessary to bring products to market in a timely, protected and sustainable wayFact|date=April 2008:

# Timely refers to speed-to-market. The quickest entrant with a quality product which addresses an urgent and common need will gain maximum market share and will find it easier (albeit just slightly easier) to maintain that lead. Speed-to-market is the essence of getting to a return for an investment with the minimum risk. It is immensely important to target the need quickly and effectivelyFact|date=April 2008.

# Protected refers to developing products that can be effectively monetized for a duration of time before competition is given a change to erode returns. Patents, hard-to-replicate differentiation in design, manufacturing or conducive relationships with customers, vendors, etc., are just some of the ways to gain protection. Any product in a lucrative market will always attract competition and continued innovation is the only way to gain an advantageFact|date=April 2008.

# Sustainability refers to scalability, continued innovation and the ability to lower costs (legally) to make it harder for competition. Keeping up with changing market needs requires an ability to adapt and modify products with minimal investment of time and capital and to try and capture directly and indirectly related market needs. Lowered costs and continued innovation are essential for profitability.

ystem-On-Module (SOM)

For companies designing or redesigning an Embedded Systems product there is the tendency to utilize as many third-party components as possible for functions that are well-understood and readily available in the marketplaceFact|date=April 2008. This is a direct result of the increasing commoditization of advanced functionalities in the electronic component market. This paradigm is what makes companies use prepackaged power-modules for example, thereby avoiding the complexity and cost of designing 'in house'. A plethora of vendors supply ready built units with all the functionality required (except for specific or niche applications). Thus, it makes no sense for a company to design its own hardware when it has the choice of buying fully-tested, reliable products at lowere cost.POV-statement|date=April 2008

The same type of 'building block' approach is now being extended to the "control-plane" processing logic of many embedded designsFact|date=April 2008. Standard processing blocks may now be purchased on the market offering fully self-contained, well tested solutions suited for high-performance, high-reliability applications. This is the concept of the System-On-Module (SOM) designs coming into existence. Such modules contain a processor, associated memory, peripheral transceiver chips and most recently reconfigurable Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs).

The latest in Reconfigurable, High-performance and Miniaturized Modules offer scalability and adaptability for the optimal price-performance fitFact|date=April 2008. Such modules are designing for miniaturization from the bottom-up, with each component chosen for high real-estate efficiency (i.e., space versus performance). The incorporation of a "pre-miniaturized" Module in an embedded-system design makes it easier to design miniaturized products, and reduces the time a company requires to go from concept to product.Fact|date=April 2008


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