On the final day of the FPGA Summit I heard three presentations of particular interest:
“Choosing the Right Flash Memory for FPGA-Based Designs” by Olivier Mardinian of Spansion. Olivier gave a good account of the types of flash memories available and how to select one with the features you need for your design. He also talked about the support provided by Spansion to help you design in their components. This includes device drivers, programmers, a complete set of models (VHDL, Verilog, and IBIS) and app notes. Spansion and FMF have worked together for several years now so, I know how hard they work to make life easier for systems designers.
“Automating FPGA-Based System Design” by Nagesh Gupta of Taray. Nagesh talked about his company’s & Circuits product which makes optimizing FPGA pinouts much faster and easier. The tool has knowledge of FPGA I/O capabilities and allows an engineer to graphically assign a pinout that works for both FPGA and PCB routing. This tool provides its own graphical representation of the PCB layout and ratsnest so it is vendor neutral regarding the users schematic capture and PCB layout software. When I was CAE manager at Acuson, my engineers wrote an application with similar capabilities minus the nice graphical interface. If a commercial package like this had been available, we would have purchased it instead.
“Effective FPGA/PCB Co-Design” by Bob Potock of Mentor Graphics. Bob presented a tool that was very much like 7 Circuits. The primary difference seemed to be that it was tightly coupled to Mentor’s DxDesigner and Expedition tools. Having tools that are tightly coupled can be a significant productivity booster when everything works. If they don’t work or if you have multiple tool sets, something vendor agnostic mat serve you better. Both tools looked good.
Overall, I would say the conference was a success – at least from an attendees perspective. There was something over 500 people registered. I don’t have the actual attendance numbers. I am sure it will grow next year – the economy willing.