Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have become an invaluable tool in the realm of digital design, enabling rapid prototyping and testing of complex systems. While many organizations entrust their digital design teams with FPGA prototyping, there are compelling reasons to consider involving an independent team for this critical task. In this article, we will explore five key reasons why FPGA prototyping should not solely fall under the domain of the digital design team.
Independent Quality Check
When the same team responsible for the initial digital design is also tasked with FPGA prototyping, there is a risk of overlooking potential design flaws. An independent team can provide a fresh perspective and conduct a thorough quality check to identify any discrepancies or errors that might have been missed during the design phase. This additional layer of scrutiny helps to ensure the final reliability and quality of the digital design itself.
Experience in Emulating Analog Behavior
ASICs are not limited to digital functionality only; they also contain analog functionality which needs to be emulated throughout the prototyping process. An independent team with expertise in emulating analog behavior can bring a holistic approach to the prototyping process. This ensures that both digital and analog aspects of the ASIC design are accurately represented in the FPGA prototype, leading to more comprehensive testing and validation.
Prioritization and Pressure
Meeting tapeout deadlines is a high-stakes endeavor for the digital design team. In such a pressured environment, FPGA prototyping might inadvertently take a backseat, leading to rushed implementations. By assigning the prototyping task to a dedicated team, organizations can alleviate the pressure on the digital design team, allowing them to focus on meeting their primary objectives without compromising the quality of the prototype.
Expertise in FPGA Selection
Selecting the right FPGA type and board for a particular project is crucial for achieving optimal performance and functionality. An independent team that specializes in FPGA development brings a wealth of experience in evaluating various FPGA options based on the project's requirements. Their familiarity with the FPGA landscape allows them to make informed decisions that lead to successful prototyping outcomes.
Familiarity with FPGA Boards and Lab Equipment
Working with FPGA boards and laboratory equipment requires specialized knowledge and skills. Digital design teams might not be well-versed in the nuances of FPGA platforms and related tools. In contrast, an independent team with a background in FPGA development is more likely to be proficient in selecting the appropriate FPGA board, configuring it effectively, and leveraging lab equipment for accurate testing and validation.
While FPGA prototyping is an essential component for achieving a functional correct digital design of an ASIC, FPGA prototyping demands a distinct skill set and focused attention. Entrusting an independent team with FPGA prototyping brings advantages such as an unbiased quality check, expertise in emulating analog behavior, reduced pressure on the digital design team, familiarity with FPGA platforms and lab equipment, and informed FPGA selection. By recognizing the benefits of collaboration between digital design and FPGA prototyping specialists, organizations can enhance the effectiveness and accuracy of their prototyping processes.