FPGA family gains low-power devices
Microsemi Corp. has created lower-power versions of its PolarFire field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and simultaneously released an updated version of its design suite that supports the new products. The Libero system-on-chip (SoC) PolarFire Design Suite v2.2, which gives designers access to the new “L” series PolarFire FPGAs, includes a smart debug tool.
Microsemi, recently acquired by Microchip, specializes in smaller, lower-power FPGAs compared to other FPGA makers, notably Intel’s Altera and Xilinx. Every FPGA in Microsemi’s new L series is characterized by even lower static power, in some cases by as much as 30% to 35% lower than the standard PolarFire version.
That can help in a couple of different ways. Lower-power FPGAs can be smaller and lighter, which is helpful to designers looking to shrink the size of their products, particularly portable devices. In battery-powered devices, a lower-power processor enables designers to either reduce the size of the product’s battery or deliver longer battery life.
Tim Morin, director of product marketing for Microsemi’s programmable solutions business unit, told Electronic Products that Microsemi tested one of its major competitor’s FPGAs against an L series PolarFire and found that the former drew 17 W while the latter drew only 7 W.
“That’s a needle mover,” said Morin. That could be the difference between having to use a fan for cooling or not, keeping in mind that fans are notorious for eventually failing, he added.
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