For embedded market applications requiring low-power, high-performance processors, designers are choosing a standard processor architecture and differentiating through an open software development framework to manage the cost and deployment of their embedded solutions. Each embedded processor architecture typically offers a well-established ecosystem of third-party vendors for development tools, operating systems, and software intellectual property (IP). However, the embedded processor market is still very fragmented when it comes to addressing the needs of different embedded markets and applications. Embedded processor vendors need to offer many variations of their processors and supporting chipsets to meet specific peripheral requirements for every application they go after.
Many low-power, high-performance embedded processors, such as the Intel® AtomTM Processor E6xx Series, support PCI Express® (PCIe®) standard interfaces. A PCIe-enabled processor with a direct connection to a flexible transceiver FPGA-based I/O companion device from Altera, as seen in Figure 1, is ideal for many embedded applications that require a high-performance processor and the flexibility of an FPGA. Without changing the host processor, the FPGA can be programmed and reconfigured to support different slave peripherals, I/O standards, and even an embedded soft-core processor such as the Nios® II processor for local control and data processing within the FPGA. This enables the processor to support many different applications from the same hardware platform. The implementation of time-critical or hardware-specific I/O functions is simplified as the host processor and software requires no changes when the I/O requirements change. In addition, you can migrate the IP in the FPGA to next-generation FPGAs to address concerns about overall cost of ownership, time to market, and long-term product availability.
Figure 1: High-Performance PCIe Processor with FPGA as I/O Companion Chip
The Kontron COM ExpressTM FPGA Starter Kit is available for accelerating embedded system designs using the Intel Atom Processor E6xx Series and Altera® Cyclone® IV GX transceiver FPGAs. For more information, visit the links below.
- Kontron COM Express™ FPGA Starter Kit
- Intel datasheet: Intel Atom Processor E6xx Series (PDF)
- Solution sheet: FPGA I/O Companion Chip Solutions (PDF)
- Whitepaper: Five Ways to Build Flexibility into Your Industrial Applications with FPGAs (PDF)
- Whitepaper: Lowering the Total Cost of Ownership in Industrial Applications (PDF)
- Webcast: Three Reasons to Use FPGAs in Industrial Applications