High-performance DSP platforms, traditionally based on general-purpose DSP processors running algorithms developed in C, have been migrating towards the use of an FPGA pre-processor or coprocessor. Doing so can provide significant performance, power, and cost advantages. Even with these considerable advantages, design teams accustomed to working on processor-based systems may avoid using FPGAs because they lack the hardware skills necessary to use one as a coprocessor. Unfamiliarity with traditional hardware design methodologies such as VHDL and Verilog limits or prevents the use of an FPGA, oftentimes resulting in more expensive and power-hungry designs. A new group of emerging design tools called ESL (electronic system level) promises to address this methodology issue, allowing processor-based developers to accelerate their designs with programmable logic while maintaining a common design methodology for hardware and software.

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