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Microcontroller Architects Look to Embedded FPGAs for Flexibility
By Tony Kozaczuk, Flex Logix
Chip Design (November 16th, 2016)
Why embedded FPGAs are set to enhance and complement ARM processors
Today, microcontroller families typically have dozens of versions that have various combinations of GPIO configurations: SPIs, UARTs, I2Cs, etc. to address the needs of different customers. This requires mask changes for each version. A new version takes quarters to go through the design and verification process. Now that microcontrollers are moving to the 40nm node where mask costs are ~$1M, a new solution is required.
Embedded FPGAs provide this solution by enabling microcontrollers to have a part or all of their GPIO subsystem be programmable and reconfigurable. This enables any GPIO to be any serial protocol and enables some processing to be done in the embedded FPGA, speeding response offloading the embedded processor, and perhaps saving energy.
Flex Logix provides EFLX embedded FPGA in the 40nm node, which will be integrated into the I/O subsystems of future microcontrollers to provide this flexibility and reconfigurability (Figure 1). Embedded FPGA can also connect to higher performance buses such as AHB and AXI.
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