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Accelerating System Performance Using ESL Design Tools and FPGAs

Authored on: Dec 7, 2006 by James Hrica, Jeff Jussel, and Chris Sullivan

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The microprocessor has had more impact on electronics and our society than any other invention since the integrated circuit. The CPU's programmability using simple sets of instructions makes the capabilities of silicon available to a broad range of applications. Thanks to the scalability of silicon technologies, microprocessors have continuously grown in performance for the last 30 years.

But what if your processor does not have enough performance to power your application? Adding more CPUs may not fit power or cost budgets—and more than likely won't provide the needed acceleration anyway. Adding custom hardware accelerators as co-processors adds performance at lower power. But unlike processors, custom hardware is not easily programmable. Hardware design requires special expertise, months of design time, and costly NRE development charges.

Reprinted with permission from Xcell Journal / Third Quarter 2006. Article © Xcell Journal.

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