CPU vs DSP vs FPGA: Main difference among them

What is CPU?

The CPU, or central processing unit, is a computer’s “control center.” The CPU, also referred to as the “central” or “main” processor, is an advanced group of electronic circuitry that controls the device’s operating system and software. Some individuals think that since a CPU or SoC is a component of the hardware of an Embedded IC, hardware designers should decide which to employ. The CPU typically receives, processes, and executes instructions in the device’s hardware and software.

The CPU performs arithmetic, logic, and other operations to transform data input into output that is more useful. The CPU must have at least one processing core, though many have more. A server with two hexa-core CPUs, for instance, has a total of 12 processors.

What is a Digital Signal Processor?

In order to filter and compress analog signals while they are being transmitted, as well as to find errors, a digital signal processor (DSP) is typically utilized. A digital signal processor, or a device with comparable capabilities and the capacity to execute processing algorithms exclusive to a DSP, does this specific sort of signal processing. After converting an analog signal to a digital signal, DSP typically uses signal processing techniques and algorithms. For example, DSP can be used to reduce noise and distortion in audio streams. DSP is used in a variety of applications, including audio signal processing, biomedicine, voice recognition, and digital image processing.

What is FPGA board?

The core of FPGA semiconductor devices is a matrix of reconfigurable logic blocks (CLBs) connected via programmable interconnects. Devices with FPGA technology have memory and configurable logic. Any number of applications can be put up to run on a generic FPGA as needed. The end-user can create a range of hardware designs thanks to the modularity of FPGA designs, ensuring that the FPGA is compatible with certain systems. The end-user or programmer can utilize hardware description languages like Verilog HDL, VHDL, and SystemC to implement the hardware’s design.

CPU vs DSP vs FPGA Features

CPU Features

  • After being recovered from main memory, data is routed to the processor’s tiny cache.
  • Multiple cores are present in modern CPU designs. These cache-memory-based cores are independent of one another.
  • The speed of the CPU is frequently stated in GHz or MHz. A CPU that operates at a greater frequency can finish a task more quickly.
  • The physical unit has two logical cores that run in parallel. The entire process speeds up as the number of cores increases.
  • CPUs with several cores have more bandwidth than CPUs with a single core.

DSP Features

  • Digital signal processors’ main function is to simplify routine, computationally taxing activities.
  • Most digital signal processors have a reliable data path and the ability to send large amounts of data to memory quickly.
  • To increase hardware effectiveness, these processors provide unique instruction sets.
  • Two essential features of digital signal processors are their rapid multiply-accumulate units and data pipeline with multiple-access memory architectures.
  • Pipelines are often used to increase processor performance. Since most processors now use pipelining, programming will become considerably more challenging as processing speeds increase.

FPGA Features

  • Incredibly complex.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Heightened integration
  • Ignore the ASICs problem.
  • It is a live, online exam.
  • There are RAM blocks in several FPGAs.
  • High density and dependability
  • Compatible devices include the PLD and tiny physical size FPGA.
  • Programming is also highly flexible.

Key differences between CPUs, DSPs, and FPGAs

Purpose General-purpose Digital signal processing Customizable
Applications Computers, servers, and other hardware are examples of devices that must perform a variety of tasks Audio and video processing are two more applications that require rapid digital signal processing Particular applications
Features Multiple parallel data streams and a quick ALU characteristics specific to digital signal processing Configurable logic
Speed Varies Usually quicker than CPUs for jobs involving digital signal processing According to the application
Cost Varies Usually more costly than CPUs According to the application

CPU vs DSP vs FPGA: Pros and Cons

Pros and cons of CPU

Pros of CPU

  • The CPU acts as the brain and heart of a computer and is its primary component.
  • It is small and slides into the motherboard’s slot easily.
  • It handles numerical and commercial data more quickly.

Cons of CPU

  • Massive jobs involving millions of identical operations cannot be managed due to inadequate parallel processing.
  • CPU development is also progressing slowly.
  • It is incompatible with some software and systems; for instance, an ARM CPU cannot run software made for an x86 Intel processor.

Pros and cons of DSP

Cons of DSP

  • DSP allows for the cascading of digital systems without experiencing any loading problems.
  • Digital circuits may be easily and inexpensively duplicated in large numbers in this fashion.
  • Component value tolerances are less likely to affect digital circuits.
  • The digital signals can be processed offline, making it easy to send them.
  • The activities involved in digital signal processing can be changed by updating the software of a digital programmable system.
  • Digital systems make precision control simpler than analog ones do.
  • Complex signal processing algorithms can be created utilizing DSP technology.
  • Digital signals can be stored on magnetic medium, like magnetic tape, without compromising the signal’s reproduction quality.

Cons of DSP

  • DSP requires DAC and ADC modules because it needs a reconstruction filter after the DAC and an anti-aliasing filter before the ADC.
  • Since DSP processes signals more quickly and has more internal hardware resources overall than ASP, it uses more energy.
  • DSP chips are very expensive, thus choosing the appropriate ICs is crucial.
  • DSP requires more bandwidth to deliver the same data than ASP.
  • There is a limit to how high the bit rate may be raised, but there is also room for data reduction. Because each DSP has an own hardware layout and set of software instructions, DSP programming expertise is required. Therefore, only highly skilled engineers are able to service the machinery.

Pros and cons of FPGA

Pros of FPGA

  • There are no NRE (Non Recurring Expenses), which are frequently associated with ASIC designs. For FPGA, this is missing. FPGA tools are inexpensive.
  • This is due to the fact that software handles the majority of the routing, placement, and timing. Less manual labor is required.The FPGA design process eliminates the complex and time-consuming floorplanning, place and route, and timing analyses.
  • The FPGA design pipeline eliminates potential project re-spins, wafer capacities, etc. because the design logic has already been produced and confirmed in the FPGA device.
  • Field reprogramability: It is possible to instantly upload a new bitstream, or your software, over a distant connection. The identical alterations that an FPGA can carry out in a matter of minutes with an ASIC can cost $50,000 and take 4-6 weeks with an ASIC. The cost of an FPGA might range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars or more, depending on the hardware requirements.
  • Reusability: Reusability is the primary advantage of FPGA. Before being implemented on an ASIC, the design can be built as a prototype on an FPGA and tested for almost accurate results. If the design has errors, edit the HDL code, create a bit stream, program the FPGA, and perform a new test.Modern FPGAs have the ability to dynamically and partially reconfigure.

Cons of FPGA

  • The FPGA uses more electricity. Your control over the power optimization is limited.
  • You must utilize the capabilities of the FPGA. FPGA thus limits the size of the design.
  • very suitable for small-scale production.
  • In contrast to ASIC implementation, cost per unit goes up as production scales.

CPU vs DSP vs FPGA Applications

CPU Applications

Servers, which are computers used for data processing and storing, make use of CPUs. Servers usually have a large number of CPUs, so they can handle multiple requests at once.

Smartphones: These devices employ CPUs. Although they can still execute the majority of programs, smartphone CPUs are frequently less powerful than those in desktop or laptop computers.

Tablets: Tablets also utilize CPUs. Tablet CPUs are similar to smartphone CPUs in general.

Automobiles: CPUs manage the engine, gearbox, and other systems in automobiles. Although car CPUs typically have less processing power than other types of CPUs, they are nonetheless capable of handling complex calculations.

Appliances: CPUs can be found in things like washing machines, microwaves, and refrigerators. Appliance CPUs frequently have less processing power than other types of CPUs, but they can nonetheless control the appliance’s operations.

Medical equipment: Two examples of medical equipment that uses CPUs are MRI machines and pacemakers. Medical device CPUs are typically incredibly powerful and reliable since they must be able to perform essential tasks without fail.

Industrial robots: Industrial robots can do tasks like welding, painting, and assembly with the help of CPUs. Industrial robot CPUs are typically extremely powerful and precise since they must be able to do these tasks consistently and accurately.

DSP Applications

  • Used during sampling for both up- and down-sampling
  • Time-domain processing: correlation and convolution
  • Windowing, frequency analysis, and Fourier transformations
  • processing of audio and images
  • Diagnostic imaging (CT, MRI, ultrasound, and other modalities), electrocardiogram,
  • Image analysis, archiving, and retrieval for medical purposes
  • Regulating and observing the process
  • Radar, sonar
  • Earthquake data collection, recording, and analysis
  • Voice and data compression
  • FIR and IIR filter design for filtering

FPGA Applications

ASIC Prototyping: Quick and accurate SoC system modeling and embedded software verification are made possible by ASIC prototyping using FPGAs.

Data Center: Constructed to accommodate high-bandwidth, low-latency servers, networking, and storage applications in order to optimize the value of cloud installations.

Network-attached storage (NAS), storage area networks (SAN), servers, and storage appliances are solutions for high speed computing and data storage.

Industrial: AMD FPGAs and targeted design platforms for Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) enable higher levels of flexibility, quicker time-to-market, and lower overall non-recurring engineering costs (NRE). These applications include industrial imaging and surveillance, industrial automation, and medical imaging equipment.

Medical: For a variety of computation, display, and I/O interface requirements for diagnostic, monitoring, and therapeutic applications, the Virtex FPGA and SpartanTM FPGA families can be used.

Consumer electronics: A few examples of the next-generation, fully featured consumer applications that can be made possible by affordable consumer electronics solutions include converged handsets, digital flat panel displays, information appliances, home networking, and residential set top boxes.

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