FPGAs have been used in DSP applications for years as logic aggregators, bus bridges and peripherals. More recently FPGAs have been gaining considerable traction in high-performance digital signal processing applications and are emerging as ideal co-processors for standard DSP devices. In these latter two roles, FPGAs provide tremendous computational throughput by using highly parallel architectures, and are hardware reconfigurable; allowing the designer to develop customized architectures for ideal implementation of their algorithms.

The new generation of FPGAs developed using 90-nm process technology not only provide an effective way of implementing high-performance DSP functions but also provide the designer with an even more cost-effective solution. This white paper takes a look at some common high-performance DSP functions and calculates their effective implementation cost based on the published pricing of the underlying FPGA.

For the purposes of this calculation, we will look at the Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA family (introduced in 2003) which has a range of advanced features that enable the area-efficient implementation of DSP functions.

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