High-performance DSP in a low-power FPGA

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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Jul 25, 2007

Low-power FPGAs are optimised for applications such as tactical radios for military communications, wireless access points and portable medical equipment.

Xilinx has added power efficient Spartan-3A DSP devices to its XtremeDSP portfolio of solutions for signal processing applications.

The new devices, which are in production today, deliver high-performance DSP capabilities in a low-power FPGA for applications such as tactical radios for military communications, wireless access points and portable medical equipment.

The Spartan-3A DSP low power (LP) devices deliver a 50% static power savings, and a 70% savings while in suspend mode, compared with the standard devices and are available in industrial rated grades.

The lower power complements the dynamic power advantage inherent in the Spartan-DSP series due to the integration of dedicated DSP circuitry.

In fact, the Spartan-3A DSP 3400A LP devices have a 25% power efficiency advantage over competing FPGAs by delivering 4.06GMAC/mW at a speed of 250MHz in the lowest cost speed grade.

"As the insatiable need for DSP performance increases in a plethora of applications, optimised energy efficiency becomes a requirement in many of those applications", says Bruce Weyer, Sr Director of Marketing for Xilinx's Processing Solutions Group.

"Applications that require significant DSP performance can now also benefit from the new power efficiency performance ratio Xilinx delivers with the addition of low power Spartan DSP devices to the XtremeDSP portfolio".

The Spartan-3A DSP FPGA platform's ability to perform signal processing functions without the need to consume logic resources enables designers to meet their performance and cost goals while enabling better power efficiency.

The XtremeDSP DSP48A slices that make up the dedicated DSP circuitry include dedicated 18 x 18 multipliers along with 18bit pre-adder and 48bit post-adder/accumulator to deliver superior performance of DSP functions at a low cost.

Power efficiency can also be derived from the advanced static power management suspend mode feature in the Spartan-3A DSP FPGA platform, which reduces FPGA power consumption while retaining the FPGA's configuration data and maintaining the application state.

This means devices can quickly enter and exit suspend mode as required in an application.

The Spartan-3A DSP LP devices can be used in applications such as ultra portable ultrasound equipment, where digital beamforming is a key DSP application and channel counts vary from 16 to 128 depending on system requirements.

The suspend mode capabilities of the Spartan-3A DSP FPGA platform also helps to extend battery life in these applications.

Other applications that can benefit from the industry's lowest power/high performance FPGA platform include Milcom portable and mobile tactical radios, and portable night vision equipment.

The XC3SD1800A-4LI (low power, industrial temperature grade) device is priced at US $34.80 and the XC3SD3400A-4LI device is priced at US $50.00 Pricing is for 25,000 units in volume production, end 2008.

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