This paper presents the implementation of soft core processors in FPGAs, and the decision tradeoffs which must be made during the design process. The effects of critical design decisions are presented paying attention to the effects of these decisions have on individual project phases and thus overall project schedule. Making informed decisions during the design process can reduce the time required to design, implement, and test a project’s required functionality. The topics discussed apply to a wide range of projects and processor applications.

The design team should utilize a system-oriented approach to design and consider the farreaching effects of decisions at the critical phases of design. With a good understanding of the design cycle, development tools options, and benefits of comprehensive tradestudies, the design team can avoid many common design mistakes and oversights, which may limit the flexibility inherent in an FPGA embedded processor based design.