Why Low-Power FPGA Solution is Ideal for IoT Applications

Low-power FPGA effectively remediates the primary challenges involved in connected devices designing, such as power efficiency and interoperability across different interfaces.

FREMONT, CA: The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a widely popular concept these days, often used to illustrate a world in which virtually every electronic device connects to the internet and each other. It comprises a long list of applications, from smart consumer appliances to vehicles and wearables. To reach the billions of devices making up IoT ecosystem, designers will need to overcome certain challenges, and significant among them is making IoT devices power-efficient, and providing a processing growth path to handle increased device performance requirements. An FPGA-based design approach can assist designers here.

Today, every aspect of the IoT devices’ design is focused on ensuring that it is as energy-efficient as possible. IoT devices must be designed with energy efficiency as the primary concern at all levels. Most IoT applications demand to be always-on, so the devices will consume significant power. One approach that provides always-on solutions is using small, low-power FPGA to monitor sensors, wireless modules, and displays, or even voice commands. The processors, wireless modules, and screens can be put in standby mode until the FPGA determines the user’s need to wake up the terminal and provide service. FPGA enables power management by allowing the device to switch between one phase and another dynamically. This approach offers considerable power savings, resulting in longer battery life, display lifetime, and lower thermal radiation.

An IoT product will consist of several subsystems with unique functions. Depending upon requirements, there are components for each of these subsystems. In most cases, designers are forced to choose components that are solely based on interface compatibility. Fortunately, there is a solution for incompatible interfaces—using a very small, low-cost FPGA to bridge the interfaces. These FPGAs solve problems like interfacing with an image sensor when the processor does not support advanced image sensor receivers.

As the IoT market grows, unique challenges arise for designing and manufacturing these smart, connected devices. However, remediating the common design problems can be addressed with FPGA, which offers a low-cost, small, and low-power solution ideal for IoT applications.