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FPGAs get larger, cost less

Posted: 04 Nov 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fpga? anadigm? an222e04? an122e04?

There aren't nearly as many makers of analog field programmable devices as there are with digital. Digital is straightforward compared to the many more intricacies of analog.

While several players have come, gone, or been absorbed by the industry, there are some field programmable analog technologies that are steadily moving more and more toward the mainstream. One of them comes from Anadigm, which has just released two new field programmable analog arrays (FPAAs).

The new parts double the effective analog density over previous family members. What's more, the company is more aggressively pricing its parts to get even more of an edge compared to discrete analog solutions.

Like FPGAs, Anadigm's new AN222E04 and AN122E04 devices are programmable and reconfigurable in-system. Unlike most FPGAs, the AN222E04 has the additional feature of being dynamically reconfigurable, allowing on-the-fly, real-time control of analog functions by the microprocessor in an embedded system. I like this.

Not only does this open the door for dynamic processing in real time, it also solves long term issues like drift. Dynamic processing functions like adaptive filters, downloadable pre-programmed equalization settings, automated sensor interfacing and calibration, and so much more can take place as well as leaving the ability to add to the design later on in life. This can help make the same boards usable in future applications since effectively, it's a software issue.

Long term drift and auto-calibration can take place as well since over time, components may drift or degrade. Instead of turning a trimmer, adjustments are made through an embedded micro or user interface.

Taking aim at programmable analog instrumentation and high-volume audio, industrial, and medical systems are good bets, especially with the reasonable pricing. Prices start at $5.08 (10,000-unit quantities).

Also key in making this possible is the suite of design, development tools Anadigm provides. You can program parts using a drag-and-drop CAD tool that quickly and easily captures complex analog functions.

The building blocks or 'configurable analog modules' (CAMs) house four I/O cells and two dedicated output cells, allowing each device to be programmed with up to six outputs. The digitally emulated analog functionality also has at it's disposal successive approximation registers that can be used with the lookup table to implement non-linear transfer functions.

This approach provides immediate simulation capability with the immediate ability to be then downloaded to the chip for testing and validation. Since analog functions are effectively emulated with software, control is easily implemented using C-code automatically generated by AnadigmDesigner 2, the company's development tool.

Packages are 44-pin QFP with samples and production quantities of both devices now available.

- Jon Gabay


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