FPGAs – The Changing Face of Embedded Systems

Embedded systems are ubiquitous today – from household appliances to military equipment. Over the past four decades, the capabilities of embedded systems have grown tremendously and so have their applications.

With the advancement of technology, the capabilities and components of embedded systems are continuously changing. To give you an idea – according to VDC Research, for the Networking and Communications industry, the usage of general CPUs in the embedded boards and systems is expected to drop 20% from 83% to 65% by 2014. Similarly, the usage of CPUs and DSPs is expected to drop from 80% by 45% for Niche Markets and Emerging Applications industry segments by 2014. This is primarily attributed to the increased usage of Field-programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and the fact that high-end FPGAs now come with an on-chip CPU. FPGAs offer several advantages such as the potential for infinite reconfigurations at run-time, parallelism and high processing speeds. Further, according to the research, the decision factors towards choosing an embedded solution for the communications industry will primarily be influenced by price and software compatibility.

How are you preparing to adapt to the new embedded systems based on FPGAs and other non-regular CPUs?

According to a recent IEEE publication – “What do FPGAs Mean for the Future of Embedded Systems?” – one important factor in the uptake of FPGAs for use in embedded systems will be the general accessibility of affordable and easy-to-use design tools that can accelerate time-to-market by automating both system definition and integration.

Embedded systems are changing at their very core (literally) and the change is coming fast. Whether you are a distributor, systems integrator or a value added reseller, you need to be aware of and prepare for the change with the right supply chain in mind and the right design tools to develop the next generation embedded solutions.

Dell OEM Solutions is helping our customers learn about these changes and plan their next generation products. Feel free to contact our specialized consultants or ask questions in the comments.

About the Author: Arpita Somani