By John Swan (Lattice) and Tomek Krzyzak (Digital Core Design) March 05, 2008 -- pldesignline.com
One way that silicon suppliers reduce manufacturing costs is by discontinuing older product portfolios leading to microprocessor obsolescence. Multiple versions of those processor cores and a mix of integrated peripherals complicate the situation, leading to a plethora of silicon incarnations for each particular processor architecture.
By integrating peripherals into a single die with a microprocessor, the supplier could target the microcontroller to a particular application domain with high volume needs. (Throughout this article, the term "microcontroller" refers to the entire component, including the processor core and integrated peripherals.)
As applications and the standards by which they operate evolve over time, the narrower market space of the microcontroller design makes it more vulnerable to obsolescence. This article examines the options that are available to designers facing microprocessor (and microcontroller) obsolescence using FPGAs.
Before considering those options, however, it is helpful first to consider FPGA technology as a means to address the challenge of microprocessor obsolescence. On a LatticeXP2 FPGA, for example, the CPU core of a 68HC11 compatible can be implemented as fully synthesizable code in just 2600 slices.
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