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Using Model-Based Design to Accelerate FPGA Development for Automotive Applications

Journal Article
ISSN: 1946-4614, e-ISSN: 1946-4622
Published April 20, 2009 by SAE International in United States
Using Model-Based Design to Accelerate FPGA Development for Automotive Applications
Citation: Sharma, S. and Chen, W., "Using Model-Based Design to Accelerate FPGA Development for Automotive Applications," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars – Electron. Electr. Syst. 2(1):150-158, 2009,
Language: English


A recent Gartner Dataquest study predicts that the total worldwide automotive semiconductor market will grow from $20.1 billion in 2007 to $25.9 billion by 2010. The study also predicts that revenue from automotive usage of FPGAs will triple to approximately $312 million during that same period[1].
Many of these FPGAs will be deployed in safety applications such as back-up cameras, lane departure warning systems, blind-spot warning system, and adaptive cruise control. FPGAs will also be deployed in next-generation engine electronics, emissions control, navigation, and entertainment applications.
Automotive systems engineers are adept at using Model-Based Design for implementing some of these embedded applications on DSPs and microcontrollers. Many of these engineers are new to FPGA design and waking up to a fragmented workflow that is making it harder to meet time-to-market and cost objectives.
For example, engineers who are migrating their systems designs from DSPs to FPGAs are discovering that additional verification steps such as bit-true, cycle-accurate simulations are required to ensure that the FPGA functions the same as the system specification. This is a time-consuming and error-prone activity involving file exchanges between the system designer and the FPGA designer. Geographically distributed teams face an even bigger challenge since the system engineer and FPGA designer may be many miles away from each other.
Common applications for FPGAs in automotive industry include:
  • Prototyping in high-volume applications such as engine and steering control, where the final production deployment will be an ASIC. In this workflow, the proof of concept work is done using FPGAs.
  • Production deployment to low-volume high-processing power applications such as driver-assistance and infotainment systems.
This paper illustrates how Model-Based Design integrates the world of system designers, FPGA designers, and verification engineers to increase productivity and produce correct-by-construction designs that match the system specification. Using the concept of executable design specification, this paper discusses how Model-Based Design streamlines both design and verification of FPGAs for an engine control application.