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FPGA-based prototyping boards to fit all your design needs

Posted: 12 May 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Synopsys  processor  FPGA  Xilinx  ASIC 

As design engineers, we often see a huge deal of FPGA development projects ending up as custom-designed boards. However, during the design and development phase, using an off-the-shelf development board eases hardware-in-the-loop verification and offers significant risk mitigation of the more challenging technical aspects related with getting the system up and running.

We can use these boards for a number of different end applications as such no one board is the magic bullet that enables us to use it for all applications. Each time we come to select a board for our project we must consider not only the performance of the FPGA or as you will see SoC mounted on it but also the types and size of memories available, the interfaces available, such as USB, EIA232, GigE, among others, along with user-accessible IO allowing integration with elements of the application.

Here are 10 interesting boards that can be used across a number of different applications.

ASIC Prototyping: The High-performance ASIC Prototyping System (HAPS) board

This is the ultimate development board designed to be used to prototype ASICs across a number of High Performance FPGA's all interconnected within the chassis. The latest HAPS 80 series comes complete with a Xilinx UltraScale VU440 FPGAs. These high-end devices enable the simulation of up to 1.6 billion ASIC gates on a 64 FPGA HAPS system. Needless to say, a system of this capability requires a significant software suite provided by the ProtoComplier, which configures and controls the prototyping on the system.

This is definitely the high end of development boards, but more than one high-performance signal-processing ASIC currently in orbit was developed using a HAPS system.

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Figure 1: (Source:

Stratix 5 development board: High end general development

Moving outside the ASIC prototyping domain, FPGAs themselves are still used in a number of high-performance applications from telecommunications to high-performance RADAR. These applications require development boards that provide high-performance, resource-rich FPGAs but also use high-performance memories such as DDR3, RLDRAM, QDR2+. High-performance IO is also required to move the data on to and off of the system without introducing bottlenecks; therefore this board provides the ability to interface to high-speed mezzanine cards. These can be purchased off the shelf or custom developed for depending upon your application.

This Stratix 5 card from Altera provides all of these along with more common network interfaces like Gigabit Ethernet.

Applications include broadcast, networking, high-performance military & medical systems.

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Figure 2: (Source:

VCU110 development kit

Another very high end development board based around the Virtex UltraScale device, this board comes with 2 FPGA mezzanine card (FMC) slots enabling addition of development specific interfaces along with a range of memory type RLDRAM, QDR2+. This board is designed for high speed networking providing a 28Gbyte/s backplane interface and both Interlaken and optical interfaces. If your application calls for movement of significant data streams as required in telecommunications or data processing, then this may be the development board for you.

Applications include broadcast, networking, high-performance military & medical systems.

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Figure 3: (Source:

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