Is FPGA considered as old technology in Microcontrollers World? - Educational Engineering

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Is FPGA considered as old technology in Microcontrollers World?

Is FPGA considered as old technology in Microcontrollers World?

FPGAs and microcontrollers serve different markets and solve different problems.
FPGAs range from just a few dollars, to the most expensive FPGAs costing tens of thousands of dollars [1], and require highly skilled & experienced hardware developers to develop applications for FPGAs. FPGA development companies are perpetually hard at work pushing the limits and adding new functionality to their FPGAs. An FPGA can do in 1 second what would take a small cheap microcontroller an hour or a week to process.
Microcontrollers can cost under $1, ranging up to the most expensive microcontrollers & SoCs costing tens of dollars, and can be programmed in high-level languages by people with very little experience and achieve quick results. Microcontroller companies are perpetually hard at work pushing the limits and adding new functionality to their microcontrollers. Microcontrollers find their way into virtually countless applications that many people would not even guess had a ‘small computer’ inside them.
Both are ‘old’ in the sense they’ve been in development for decades, but both are current, relevant, and advanced technologies. They serve different markets and solve different problems.

Of course we may say that it is not the same domain of application and that FPGA allow to embed a micro controller in your design and so allows you to do all that a micro controller can do, and is far more fast than a micro controller. The fastest design I do for a micro controller was for a high voltage power supply embedded in a light amplifier for a rifle.. around 250 khz. The fastest design I do for a FPGA was for a pulsed light modem for underwater communication, whit the processing of a 340 MHz signal! … All these are pertinents answer.
But at my point of view, the hearth of the problem is not in the FPGA but in the Integrated development environment (IDE) associated with it. Roughly the IDE for FPGA are prehistoric and for what you write yourself at a technical state comparable to assembler state for computers. Even if we have large (not free for most part) libraries of components for FPGA, we do not have the equivalent of a good OS and well structurants languages to program them.
So I coud answer yes to your question, FPGA are thirty years late with IDE similar to IDE we have in eighties at ecosystem and conceptual point of view.
But the devil is in the details, if you need speed there is no alternative to FPGA.

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