Invented by engineer Ross Freeman in 1984, the field-programmable gate array (FPGA) was a needed technology at the time. Before FPGAs, engineers needed dozens of discrete integrated circuits on a board or hundreds of ICs on multiple boards to accomplish today's hardware functionality by one FPGA device.
The technology evolved in the 1990s as FPGAs became better at handling circuit sophistication and production volume. By the end of the 1990s, FPGAs were being incorporated into automotive, consumer, and industrial applications.
Today, high-bandwidth compute applications and diverse workloads are driving the need for FPGAs in accelerator cards, which embed their own systems of software, memory, ports, power, etc.
FPGA accelerators are suited for applications with significant data processing requirements such as those found in 5G communications, artificial intelligence analytics, video transcoding and processing, and machine learning. FPGAs also can compute and process big data or routine data faster than with software, a computer processing unit, or both.
As the processing workloads themselves are accelerating, the need for processing acceleration and flexibility is crucial.
This week's New Tech Tuesdays highlights two FPGA-based accelerator cards for development solutions.
Advantech VEGA-4000 Xilinx Ultrascale+™ FPGA Accelerator is an FPGA-based, low-profile PCI Express card that meets escalating processing needs. VEGA-4000 is ideal for accelerating machine learning and data analytics. Advantech promotes the VEGA-4000's ability to fulfill a corresponding service demand to analyze and classify user-generated video content in real-time to ensure rules compliance. VEGA-4000 is supported by the Xilinx SDAccel development environment with FFMPEG integration. Advantech also offers custom development support services for VEGA-4000, including FPGA IP provision and system integration. The board can be delivered pre-integrated in a range of server platforms.
BittWare 520N FPGA Accelerator Card is a peripheral interconnect express (PCIe) board featuring an Intel® Stratix® 10 FPGA. The 520N is a multi-function accelerator for high-performance computing, data center, virtual networking functions, and broadcast applications. The 520N offers a single-precision floating-point performance of up to 10 teraflops (TFLOPS) with four DDR4 external memory banks. One TFLOP refers to a processor's ability to calculate 1 trillion floating-point operations per second.
The evolution of FPGAs drove accelerator cards' development to increase the technology's processing performance to meet today's high-bandwidth computing needs. As 5G communications, AI, machine learning, and video transcoding flood the market, FPGA accelerator cards help meet the demand.
Tommy Cummings is a senior technical content specialist at Mouser Electronics in Mansfield, Texas. Tommy joined Mouser in 2018 after a journalism career that included The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. At one time, he was actually a Heisman Trophy voter. He can be followed on Twitter at @tommycummings or on LinkedIn.
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