Different Levels of Digital Circuit Implementation
When we design electronics, we often aim for two main types:
- FPGAs: These are like flexible building blocks. We can program them easily using a regular computer.
- ASICs: These are like custom-made machines. They’re the best but harder to create.
In the beginning, the steps to design both are similar. But as we get closer to finishing, we do different things depending on whether we’re making an FPGA or an ASIC. For ASICs, we create a special design that will be used to make the final product. It’s a bit like making a stencil for art. For FPGAs, we turn our design into a set of instructions for the flexible blocks inside the FPGA. It’s like telling the blocks how to arrange themselves. So, designing electronics is a bit like building with different types of blocks, and depending on what we’re making, we do some different steps along the way.
What are the initial steps in the design flow for both FPGAs and ASICs?
The initial steps in the design flow are largely the same for both FPGAs and ASICs. They involve formulating the problem, specifying design requirements, conceptualizing the design, and entering the design into a CAD system.
What happens in the final stages of the design flow, and how do they differ for FPGAs and ASICs?
In the final stages, the design is mapped into the specific target technology and placed into specific parts of the target ASIC or FPGA. Routing decisions are made for the connections between components. For ASICs, the routed design is used to generate a photomask for IC manufacturing. For FPGAs, the design is translated into a format specifying how to program the programmable cells within the FPGA.
What is the programming process for modern FPGAs?
Programming modern FPGAs involves writing a sequence of 0s and 1s into the programmable cells of the FPGA. No specific programming unit other than a personal computer (PC) is required to program an FPGA.
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