What is an FPGAs & SOC FPGAs?

September 26, 2022
FPGA main
In recent years, the market demand for FPGA chips has been strong, mainly due to the continuous upgrading and evolution of 5G, AI and automotive intelligence.

According to the data of Market Research Future market research report, FPGA in Telecom Sector Market is Anticipated to Reach US$ 1368.7 Million by 2027 Registering a CAGR of 5.3%.

At present, the global FPGA market: CR4 (the industry’s top four share concentration ratio) shares up to 97%. XilinxAltera is far ahead.

What is a FPGA?


FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) is a semiconductor integrated circuit where electrical functionality is customized to accelerate key workloads. It is a type of logic chip, which also includes general processor chips such as CPU, GPU, DSP, and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips.

Integrated circuit chips include digital and analog chips, digital chips include memory and logic chips.

What are the differences between FPGA and CPU, GPU, and ASIC?

The wiring and logical layout of the FPGA underlying logic computing unit are not solidified, which is suitable for computing fields where the underlying algorithms need to be continuously changed, such as artificial intelligence algorithm optimization.

FPGA chips, its underlying logic operation unit of the line logic layout is not solidified. The user can program the logic unit and switch array through EDA software, and carry on the function configuration, so as to achieve the specific function of the integrated circuit chip.

However, for other types of logic chips, such as ASIC, CPU, and GPU, the computing relationships of the physical underlying logic units are fixed and immutable.

Since FPGA is a semi-customized chip with field programmability, it is especially suitable for applications where the physical operation logic needs to be continuously changed, such as artificial intelligence algorithm optimization, data center applications, and so on.


The special feature of FPGA is that its dependence on the underlying algorithm architecture is low, and its dependence on EDA software is high. EDA software is needed to assist the design. There is no specific function of FPGA chip when leaving the factory, through FPGA special EDA software field programming hardware can achieve specific user needs.

What is a SOC FPGA?


SoC FPGA devices integrate both processor and FPGA architectures into a single device. A SoC is normally implemented inside an FPGA. The main feature of a SoC is that you can update both its hardware and software.

Integrating the high-level management functionality of processors and the stringent, real-time operations, extreme data processing, or interface functions of an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) into a single device forms an even more powerful embedded computing platform.

Consequently, they provide higher integration, lower power, the smaller board size, and higher bandwidth communication between the processor and FPGA. They also include a rich set of peripherals, on-chip memory, an FPGA-style logic array, and high-speed transceivers.

FPGA Internal Architecture

Benefits of FPGAs

  • Flexibility: FPGA functionality can change upon every power-up of the device.
  • Acceleration: Get products to market quicker and/or increase your system performance.
  • Integration: Today’s FPGAs include on-die processors, transceiver I/O’s at 28 Gbps (or faster), RAM blocks, DSP engines, and more.
  • TCO(Total Cost of Ownership): While ASICs may cost less per unit than an equivalent FPGA, building them requires a non-recurring expense (NRE), expensive software tools, specialized design teams, and long manufacturing cycles.