Despite the availability of a range of commodity products, designers often need to turn to custom devices to meet particular needs. But which technology best suits the application? Should you base your design around an FPGA or is it better to use an ASIC? Can you meet your design requirements using a DSP?

In this section, New Electronics brings you the latest developments from the advanced platforms market, looking at how to develop and apply FPGA, ASIC and DSP technology.

What makes FinFETS so compelling?

Since the advent of semiconductors and throughout the long history of designing integrated circuits for everything from computer hardware to multifunction mobile devices, the basic tenet of Moore's law has remained the same: the number of transistors on a given area of silicon doubles every two years.

FPGAs enable innovative and cost effective automotive camera solutions

The increased use of semiconductor products in automobiles has been more pronounced in recent years. For example, it is now fairly common to find tyre pressure monitoring systems, even in entry level compact cars, a feature that used to be available only in some high end luxury cars until few years ago. The primary applications driving increased semiconductors use are driver assistance, instrument cluster, infotainment, telematics and in-vehicle networking.

Many core solutions meet growing demands of comms processors

The volume of data being transmitted around the globe is reaching staggering levels – and we 'ain't seen nothing yet', according to leading players in the sector. Dealing with this traffic, while maintaining low power consumption, is pushing device developers to create ever more complex comms processors.

Small scale programmable logic devices offer numerous benefits

In the world of programmable logic, the phrase 'ultra low density' stands out starkly. The reason? Over the years, the trend has to been to create devices with ever more features on ever smaller manufacturing processes. While the devices themselves may not be getting smaller, their density has increased dramatically.

Improvements still needed to make LEDs more efficient

Two recent developments are set to make LEDs more efficient. One, from Osram, deals with the core technology in the chip, while the other, from Philips, addresses packaging to provide electronics designers with more flexible, better performing products.

SoCs with more powerful cores need a more powerful interconnect

When mobile phones were used only to make voice calls and to send texts, the communications world was a much simpler place. But things have changed. Mobile phones have got smart and many people now use them as their main communication device, not only making voice calls, but also downloading and uploading videos to and from social media sites and browsing the internet.

FPGA developers square off at 20nm

Programmable logic is one of the first technologies to be manufactured on the latest process node. In the past, fpga developers have taken advantage of this to bring larger capacity devices to market as soon as possible in an effort to meet the needs of leading edge customers.

Design exploration: changing the fpga design flow

FPGAs have undergone significant architectural changes in the last few years. Beginning with hard blocks such as ram and dsp, fpgas now also include transceivers and hard IP blocks, such as Ethernet and PCIe Express. With these new functional blocks, fpga designers can now create complex designs. However, these designs can sometimes push the cost, power and performance specification requirements of the targeted fpga device.

Roundtable: Will the mcu-fpga combination remain a high end solution?

In the late 1990s, a leading fpga company launched a campaign under the heading of 'system on a programmable chip'. The idea was that the combination of a programmable logic fabric and a soft processor would help to cut time to market and reduce development costs. For a number of reasons, the idea didn't catch on quite as anticipated.

ARM's big.LITTLE systems provide more processing power for less energy

Traditionally, it has not been possible to design a processor that offers high performance and high energy efficiency. Solutions have typically involved integrating processors with microarchitectures optimised for performance and energy efficiency respectively. An example is a high performance application processor coupled with a low power asic.

Can tweaking the analogue properties of digital circuits help to combat the effects of variability?

As semiconductor process technologies get ever smaller, the effects of stochastic variability become more pronounced. It's no surprise: because there are fewer atoms involved, the presence or absence of a small number of dopants can have large effects on device properties. Where variability was predictable at earlier process nodes, it is more random – or stochastic – at the leading edge.

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