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Thread: Lack of FPGA's in robotics

  1. #1
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    Default Lack of FPGA's in robotics

    hello every one,,

    i was just wondering what were the limiting factors while selecting a FPGA for a robotic controller instead of a microcontroller... Please do not include the cost into it... as they have come down a great way for the amount of functionality they provide.

    just give me one reason if you can and one solution you think might enhance the situation.(if none no worries i am fine with it.. )..

    ---Rajesh
    Last edited by medampudi; 10-11-2010 at 02:27 PM.

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    Administrator T-1000 vikas's Avatar
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    Here is what i think ...

    COST - Its still not Rs 45 like 89c51
    Availability - Still don't know any local or online Indian vendors selling either xylinx or altera components
    ToolChains - No good free opensource tool chains and development environments
    Copyable code - Not much code to copy from and say that you have written it.
    Usability - Most projects ( Line Followers ) dont really require FPGAS anyway
    Vikas Patial

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikas View Post
    Here is what i think ...

    COST - Its still not Rs 45 like 89c51
    Availability - Still don't know any local or online Indian vendors selling either xylinx or altera components
    ToolChains - No good free opensource tool chains and development environments
    Copyable code - Not much code to copy from and say that you have written it.
    Usability - Most projects ( Line Followers ) dont really require FPGAS anyway
    Correct Vikas, I had ordered a fpga kit , it was Rs. 15000, that too directly from US website. The Indian reseller quoted the price at 33K. I do not see the availability with local vendors. There is a logic sniffer for $49 including shipping, with 32 I/O pins employing spartan 3. That is the cheapest i could find. Yes there is another $29 fpga kit from lattice, but that too the shipping and duty will make it above 60$.
    Picoblaze soft processor is free from xilinx, but it is not well suited to work with c compilers.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikas View Post
    Usability - Most projects ( Line Followers ) dont really require FPGAS anyway
    More than anything else this is the reason.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Android
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    By the way, what robotics are you talking about anyways?? Hobby robotics doesn't need FPGAs. Industrial Robotics use FPGAs in some cases. I have no clue about Millitary robotics in India (does it exist? No offence, just for information).

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    Wow nice scenario's guys..

    @vikas - True to the last word but if hobby robotics is only stopping at Line followers then ?? dont you think is there something wrong??.... i Agree that there is a huge hike in the cost when it comes to FPGA's and that is because of demand and supply .... in present conditions a FPGA is a luxury which only comes at a premium. A comparision between a 51 and FPGA is really mean sir.... FPGA's by itself costs more and can be used with much more flexibility than a 51.

    I am in complete accordance to your thoughts that there are no good opensource tool chains .... tool chains provided by major companies cost a fortune not only for people in India but everywhere... a single license is 2000 dollars or so..... that to for a programming environment... guesss what No Visual programming yet for FPGA's. (except NI's Labview.. tool chain provided for 180 days only..)


    @shobhit as mentioned above an FPGA is not in accordance with the general demand so it is expensive...

    and coming to the c programming part there must be a specific compiler for picoblaze ... which one are you using...

    @Prateek - i really agree to your point ... if it is a line follower or something that is even a little bit more complexed, then that can be taken care of by a uc no need of a FPGA

    @lolman_returns ...For most hobby we do not need an FPGA but for any thing related to camera's and camera processing we need something like a configurable hardware that processes the information fast depending on the algorithm.

    i don't think there is any limit to hobby projects. how long could we just go by different types of line followers.. don't we get sick of seeing them after a while...

    for the information: yes we have robotics being used in ARMY... our defense spending has been increased by 10% in the budget for 2008-09 mostly for up-gradation and heavy use of technology. a lot of technology has been planned indigenous production... i think but the budget is true,,,,

  7. #7

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    Vikas compared 8051 and FPGA in terms of usefulness for hobby robotics

  8. #8
    Senior Member Cyborg
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    COST and USEFULNESS wont let FPGAs in robotics anytime soon. (and by robotics I mean the field in general).

    FPGAs are useful, over the usual embedded controller/dsp/processor, when the speed of signal transmission from input of chip to output of chip is most important.
    For example a custom hardware video codec. even in these video applications the recent DSPs and DSP/ARM combo processors are sufficient and beat the fpgas by price.
    Or for example- a custom camera controller for stereo vision, controlling multiple imagers, syncing and then pre-processing data.

    So unless there is as application requiring a processing function which cannot be implemented by off-the shelf 1000s of ARM/DSP variants I dont see FPGA paying for itself.
    I think they are common for Medical robotics or other low volume products.
    Vivek
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    " To get working ideas effectively, I try to fail as fast as I can. "
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqlawTD_9B0

  9. #9

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    Hi,
    The purpose of FPGA is just that of a programmable device something that can be achived with a Uc. Uc have been around for a long time and lot of stuff is there on the net , forums and stuff. So people are naturlly inclided to them. To be honest the only advantage I see in FPGA is the execution speed compared to a program running on a Uc. Most uc come in dip packages which can be hand soldered who has the time money and resources for smd soldering and equipment when DIP packages re there. So WHY GO FOR FPGA!!!!

    Logic can be implemented in Uc, FPGA, hard wired circuits, PLA, PLD and stuff choosing any one is more a matter of convinence than any thing else and Uc are convinent so they r the trend. See how many Uc are manufactured compared to the FPGA and you have ur answer. Also there r things that are controlled by markets and industry some thing like why windows got popular and not linux.

    Asimov
    Last edited by asimov_18; 10-19-2010 at 11:14 PM.

  10. #10
    Administrator T-1000 vikas's Avatar
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    In my organization i made them jump from from FPGA's to ARMs, Most people do not really need FPGA's . But a lot of companies push it anyway due to more money can be made in it.

    In my current project , every single thing is now somewhat open source unlike before. I regularly have debates with Vendors trying to push FPGA's cause they make big bucks in it ... when actually simpler approches would suffice.

    Also FPGA is not the magic bullet , it is just a tool, used improperly ( 99% cases ) it will yield throughput's which are achievable at a fraction of cost in other platforms.

    Anyhow till a dev board dosent go below Rs 500 most indians will never bother.
    Vikas Patial

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