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Spartan-3A DSP FPGAs tout greater power efficiency

Posted: 26 Jul 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Spartan-3A? DSP? signal processing? power efficiency?

Xilinx Inc. has announced the addition of power-efficient 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 percent static power savings and a 70 percent savings while in suspend mode, compared to 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 percent power efficiency advantage over competing FPGAs by delivering 4.06 GMACs per 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, optimized energy efficiency becomes a requirement in many of those applications," said Bruce Weyer, senior 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."

High-performance, power-efficient ICs
DSP power efficiency refers to the amount of power consumed performing signal processing calculations. DSP power efficiency measurements can be applied to systems, function, building blocks and common operations. The Spartan-3A DSP LP devices deliver 4.06 GMACs per mW at a speed of 250Mhz in the lowest cost speed grade when analyzing the common multiply-and-accumulate operation.

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 ? 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 ultraportable ultrasound equipment, where digital beam-forming 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 $34.80 and the XC3SD3400A-4LI device is priced at $50. Pricing is for 25,000 units in volume production.

- Clive Maxfield
Programmable Logic DesignLine

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