Expert Perspectives on the Future of FPGA: Antoine El Khoury’s Vision

Niranjana R

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FPGA Insights has engaged in an exclusive interview with Antoine El Khoury, Embedded systems FPGA Engineer at Multilane

Q1) Can you provide an overview of your organization and the services/products it offers?

MultiLane Inc. is a leading provider of High-Speed IO and Data Center Interconnect test solutions. Products include BERTs, TDR, optical and electrical oscilloscopes, optical switch boxes, and a host of MSA-compliant development tools for QSFP28, QSFP-DD, OSFP, and other standards.

Q2) Can you explain the benefits of using FPGAs over other types of processors?

FPGAs can perform parallel processing, which means they can execute multiple tasks at the same time. However, the CPUs can only perform sequential processing. FPGAs can handle multiple tasks simultaneously without affecting each other’s performance. This enables higher throughput, lower latency, and better scalability for data-intensive applications such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, image processing, cryptography, and network processing.

Q3) What are the most significant trends observed in the FPGA industry over the past year? How will these trends shape the industry’s future?

FPGAs are widely used for accelerating artificial intelligence and machine learning workloads, especially after the rising adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

The FPGA market will witness increased competition from other processors, such as CPUs, GPUs, and ASICs, that are also developing AI capabilities. Also, it will experience a shift from high-end to low-end FPGAs, as more applications will require low-power and cost-effective solutions.

Q4) How do you see FPGA development evolving to meet the demands of modern applications and complex workloads?

Flexibility, reconfigurability, parallelism, performance, and reliability are the key drivers behind the increasing adoption of FPGAs in various applications and industries.

Q5) Key drivers behind the increasing adoption of FPGAs in various applications and industries?

Of course, there are many other applications and industries that can leverage the advantages of FPGAs as FPGAs are versatile and powerful devices that can provide high throughput, low latency, and reconfigurability for these applications while maintaining low power consumption.

Ensuring the security and integrity of FPGA designs is a very important and challenging task, especially in sensitive applications like finance and defense. FPGA security involves protecting the FPGA physical device, the FPGA Bitstream, and the FPGA intellectual property (IP) from unauthorized access, tampering, or reverse engineering. An attack usually aims to extract the Bitstream or the IP from the FPGA or to modify its functionality or performance

Q6) Sectors that stand to benefit the most from FPGA integration, and why?

Some of the sectors that stand to benefit the most from FPGA integration are Renewable energy, Automotive, Aerospace, Data centers, and Cloud.

Q7) The role of FPGAs in accelerating AI applications and advancements expected in the near future.

• FPGAs can help improve the efficiency and reliability of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, by providing flexible and adaptive control, monitoring, and power conversion.

• FPGAs can enhance the automotive experience by enabling advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and collision avoidance.

• FPGAs can support mission-critical applications in aerospace, such as radar, electronic warfare, satellite communications, and avionics.

• FPGAs can accelerate data-intensive workloads in data centers and cloud platforms, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, and video processing.

Q8) Ensuring the security and integrity of FPGA designs, especially in sensitive applications like finance and defense.

To counter these threats, some security features and solutions can be followed:

• Some features that can protect the physical device from tampering or damage are anti-fuse technology, tamper detection and response circuits, and physically unclonable functions (PUFs). To prevent Bitstream from being intercepted or modified, some features that can be used are encryption, authentication, integrity checking, and obfuscation. To secure IPs from theft or duplication, some features that can be used are watermarking, fingerprinting, encryption, and licensing.

These are some of the ways to ensure the security and integrity of FPGA designs. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for FPGA security, as different applications and industries may have different security requirements and standards.

Q9) Advice for students and professionals interested in pursuing a career in FPGA development to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies.

For students who are interested in pursuing a career in FPGA development, you have to learn the fundamentals of FPGA design before you dive into the advanced topics and applications of FPGA development. You should be familiar with the architecture, functionality, and programming of FPGAs. You should also be proficient in using hardware descriptive languages (HDLs), such as Verilog or VHDL, to describe and synthesize your FPGA designs.

FPGA development is a fast-moving and dynamic field that constantly evolves with new research and innovations. To can keep up with the latest developments, read academic papers, journals, blogs, newsletters, magazines, and books on FPGA development. You can also attend webinars, workshops, conferences, and events related to FPGA development to network with other FPGA developers and experts.

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