FPGAs

FPGAs are an incredible way of combining high-speed custom processing into off-the-shelf systems to enable a wide range of new measurement and control applications.

Why might you use FPGAs?

They’re highly effective managing issues that are not well solved by traditional computing:

1. High data rates with little useful information

High rate sensors (e.g. acquisition in the MHz) on embedded systems can frequently pose challenges as the data rates are hard to capture and work with in a CPU.

FPGAs are great for data reduction. For instance, you may want to capture extremely rapid pulse events. This demands a high acquisition rate when, in fact, the data can be reduced to a pulse time, shape and duration. The CPU doesn’t then have to deal with the full data rate.

2. Custom protocols

An extension of the above, protocols typically require data analysis point by point as it comes in, which is harder for a CPU to perform. With some protocols, it’s impossible to get low latency reactions that some require.

Moreover, it could lead to reducing a 1 MBaud protocol to a few kB/s of actual useful data.

3. Low latency decision-making

Decisions may need to be made within micro or even nanoseconds of receiving an input – which simply is not feasible with a CPU. FPGAs, however, can run loop rates in the MHz allowing very fast stimulus-response loops. 

4. Using lower cost processors

FPGA performs extremely well with certain types of processing (e.g. a simple filter of data on the way in). By using an FPGA, you can reduce the demand on the process and introduce smaller or less expensive systems.

 

"Communication was a concern when we hired a consultant on our FPGA project however Wiresmith Technology were extremely responsive and supportive. They quickly and fully understood our needs and were flexible when problems arose, finding ways or solutions to get the job done.

The deliverable were completed on time which allowed us to demonstrate our technology concept. Even after this James provided technical support until we were happy with the system. We would absolutely recommend them as a reliable, flexible and friendly partner."

Dr. Xin Li, Chemistry Group Leader, Sphere Fluidics

 

Are FPGAs straightforward to implement and use?

Not really.

Integrating them with your system can be a little unnerving for many reasons:

  • The learning curve can be steep and time-consuming.
  • Issues can become compounded, costly and take longer to resolve without the right experience.
  • It can be hard to validate in advance whether the FPGA will perform exactly as you intended.

 

We’ll develop FPGAs faster and better!

We can help you implement National Instruments FPGA systems without you having to invest the time to learn, develop and validate the solution yourself.

We are leading experts in using LabVIEW to program NI’s FPGA-based devices. As one of the first companies to have a Certified LabVIEW Embedded Developer in the UK, we’ve programmed every type of FPGA application available, from simple control systems to GB/s data processing systems.

Whilst LabVIEW FPGA makes the process of programming FPGAs significantly faster, it is still difficult, even if you have LabVIEW experience.

Let us overcome this for you, and get you to a high quality solution significantly faster. 

We can do this in two ways for you:

  1. Via a ‘black box’ where we provide you with a LabVIEW library to access the hardware (saving you from buying LabVIEW FPGA and attending external courses);
  1. We can develop and document the initial FPGA application so that, once we’ve got you set up, your engineers can then take over the software development and progress at their own pace.

Either way we’ll provide you with full source code so you have the freedom to develop the system in any way in the future.

FAQs

But what if I want to extend the system in the future?

But what if I want to extend the system in the future?

We always provide you with full source code to the solution and permissive licences to any Wiresmith Technology components used. This means that you are free to continue the work in-house or with another firm in the future.

Of course, we hope that you would come back to us for additional work once an initial project is complete – as many other customers regularly do. Because we give you the source code, you can be sure that this will be competitively priced.

Aren’t Consultants expensive?

It depends on how satisfied you are with the outcome! The initial figures can appear a little daunting so it’s good to know that there are a number of independent expenses that you don’t have to pay when you engage a Consultant:

  • Training course costs;
  • Software licence costs;
  • Costs for additional employee time whilst attending external training and/or investment in self-taught programming.

Typically, we’ll be able to fast-track you to a more valuable solution, more reliably and quicker than a less experienced developer.

How will I know if you’re any good?!

How will I know if you’re any good?!

Requesting external support can be unsettling, particularly when you don’t have expertise in that specific area. We can relate to that as we’ve used external contractors ourselves to support us on languages that we’re less familiar with.

Programming capability is especially hard to capture objectively or through an absolute value, so we would invite you to:

  1. Review our credentials in About Us.
  1. Read our testimonials.
  1. Approach National Instruments and ask them about us. Because of our former working relationship with NI, it’s highly likely that your local field engineer will know of us and the quality of our work – and be happy to give you their independent opinion.

Find out how we can help you to complete your unique project faster

Contact us

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