Traveling to a far-away destination usually involves a choice: do I drive or do I fly?
Driving entails a slower pace and traffic while flying allows a direct connection to your final destination for around the same price. This simple analogy illustrates choices electronics designers face in getting data from point A to point B.
Technology advancement drives added functionality in many of today’s popular applications. OEMs are responding by adding computing and processing power via advanced electronics (ASICS, ASSPs, DSPs, FPGAS, GPUs, MCUs, etc.) in their products. All of these devices need connecting in some manner.
As an example, FPGA manufacturers like Altera and Xilinx provide a vast array of characterization, development and evaluation platforms targeted at application-specific tasks. Several of their platforms can be connected together at high data-rates in order to deliver a smooth and seamless development environment for product development.
Typically these FPGA platforms are connected together with various high-speed connectors or copper cable assembly options. Increasingly, another option gaining traction for connecting multiple FPGA board together is Samtec’s patented FireFly™ Micro Flyover System™.
Just like the analogy at the beginning, FireFly™ actually “flies over” the rest of the board minimizing the trouble of routing, extra heat and latency issues. This design approach also simplifies board design and enhances performance chip to chip, board to board, or even system to system data rates of up to 28 Gbps.
A Future Proof Choice
Additionally, FireFly™ provides FPGA designers a choice of using either active optical engines or low-cost copper interconnects.
Samtec’s FireFly™ copper or active optical cable assemblies can be installed with ease upon manufacturing using micro-footprint connections ensuring minimum real-estate used on the board and more room for additional ICs. The ease of use of the FireFly™ system allows users to swap from copper to fiber-optic connections whenever needed just switching cable assemblies using the exact same connector system.
However, the most attractive features of our connection systems would be the price and quality. Using high-conductivity copper produced in a low-cost system gives FPGA designers the most bang for their buck when choosing our products along with limiting all connectivity and latency related issues.
All of these features are essential for FPGA-targeted applications, including ASIC Emulation. Due to the high demand and customized boards needed by the consumer, they must be small, fast, and cost-effective. In utilizing Firefly, Samtec meets requirements so that the majority of board real-estate is used for processing instead of interconnections. Even when connecting multiple boards together to form a contiguous device, the high-speed data rates are maintained ensuring applications run efficiently.
FireFly™ provides an emerging the solution for optimizing FPGA characterization, development and evaluation platforms. Not only will FPGA designers have the processing power to accomplish their project goals, but FireFly™ provides the means and reliability for connecting systems together.
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