Since the early years of embedded processor design and FPGA design, silicon advancement and design techniques for each have evolved independently. In the real world there are many FPGA designs without embedded processors and many embedded systems that neither have nor need an FPGA. This leads to two very distinct design flows, styles, and engineering disciplines. The relatively recent addition of mixed‐signal FPGAs adds the complexity of analog into the mix.
As FPGA and embedded functions have grown closer together on the board and in some cases merged onto the same chip, have the engineers working on these designs, or the tools they use actually evolved along with the silicon? Also, as microprocessors have included more analog functions over the years, do FPGA designers now have the opportunity to incorporate analog design into their resume?
This paper examines the evolution path for FPGAs with embedded processors, and the design tools that support them, and considers whether engineers need to evolve their techniques to accommodate the integrated silicon or whether they can continue to manage their boundaries at the silicon level instead of the board level. New techniques are available in the embedded mixed‐signal FPGA design flow, but do they smooth the adoption of a fully integrated device?