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Offline james_s

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #100 on: April 12, 2021, 03:57:40 am »
Scale it down as a proof of concept. You're talking about large numbers of parallel blocks, so to start with use just a few, you shouldn't need a massive expensive FPGA in order to see if your concept works and how well it performs.

Something else to keep in mind, the free editions of the tools I've used have limits in the devices they support, they handle bigger parts than I've ever needed, but for the really big guns you need the paid versions which are generally $$$. Not a big deal for a company with a budget but cost prohibitive for the average hobbyist not doing this stuff for a living.
 

Offline Capernicus

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #101 on: April 12, 2021, 04:33:40 am »
Scale it down as a proof of concept. You're talking about large numbers of parallel blocks, so to start with use just a few, you shouldn't need a massive expensive FPGA in order to see if your concept works and how well it performs.

Yeh its all downscalable u just get it in smaller hits.  Ill see if I can hit a happy medium there that I like.    For that raytracer I was talking about 1 ray costs 20,000 LUTS last time I looked at it,  thats not that much!  but its best if there were a parallel block of them, if u wanted to show off hardware raytracing properly.

Something else to keep in mind, the free editions of the tools I've used have limits in the devices they support, they handle bigger parts than I've ever needed, but for the really big guns you need the paid versions which are generally $$$. Not a big deal for a company with a budget but cost prohibitive for the average hobbyist not doing this stuff for a living.

It looks quite rich indeed, these FPGA things,    If It ends being up that prohibitively expensive (software... licencies... FPGA + the goddamn dev board...) Ill at least have my design and then maybe I can even just run it on the gpu again and maybe itll be faster this time because I put so much work into it. :)   There might be something I can do, maybe there is some kind of cheap rack you can get thats more performance for money that u have to look for somewhere...
« Last Edit: April 12, 2021, 04:38:06 am by Capernicus »
 

Online gnuarm

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #102 on: April 12, 2021, 04:34:04 am »
Back in the day, there was the Usenet newsgroup comp.arch.fpga, which was exactly what you're asking for. I don't know if it still exists.

Good luck.

comp.arch.fpga still exists, but you need a newsreader to access it or use Google Groups which is a truly, truly horrible interface.  I am not exaggerating in the least when I say every time Google touches the UI they make it significantly worse as if they intend to drive everyone off.  But there are still some knowledgeable people in the group.  It's been very quiet lately though.  Maybe too many old timers have kicked off. 
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Offline agehall

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #103 on: April 12, 2021, 04:47:34 am »
The FPGA im looking at to buy is this https://au.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Intel-Altera/10AX048H3F34I2SG/?qs=Rv6LVDxB0ZouSsIL4OazgQ%3D%3D
a $3,200 australian dollar, one with 480,000 luts (4 input 2 output) on it.  its very expensive and I already doesnt look like ill be able to fit my whole design onto it fully unrolled.  (I want to unroll the whole thing!  >:D)
You do realize that to make use of that chip, you also need a $4000 software license?

Quite honestly, what you seem to be looking to do is probably better done in a GPU. FPGAs are great for some things, but the more you describe your idea, the more I doubt it is a good way to solve the problem. There are many problems where the best solution would be using an FPGA but there are just as many where a GPU would be the best solution.
 

Offline Capernicus

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #104 on: April 12, 2021, 05:11:34 am »
The FPGA im looking at to buy is this https://au.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Intel-Altera/10AX048H3F34I2SG/?qs=Rv6LVDxB0ZouSsIL4OazgQ%3D%3D
a $3,200 australian dollar, one with 480,000 luts (4 input 2 output) on it.  its very expensive and I already doesnt look like ill be able to fit my whole design onto it fully unrolled.  (I want to unroll the whole thing!  >:D)
You do realize that to make use of that chip, you also need a $4000 software license?

Quite honestly, what you seem to be looking to do is probably better done in a GPU. FPGAs are great for some things, but the more you describe your idea, the more I doubt it is a good way to solve the problem. There are many problems where the best solution would be using an FPGA but there are just as many where a GPU would be the best solution.


Why all the licensing crud -  theres no licensing for GPUS,  whats the big deal?  480,000 isnt even BIG  I need bigger.  What a let down.

 

Offline ebastler

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #105 on: April 12, 2021, 05:20:21 am »
The FPGA im looking at to buy is this https://au.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Intel-Altera/10AX048H3F34I2SG/?qs=Rv6LVDxB0ZouSsIL4OazgQ%3D%3D
a $3,200 australian dollar, one with 480,000 luts (4 input 2 output) on it.  its very expensive and I already doesnt look like ill be able to fit my whole design onto it fully unrolled.  (I want to unroll the whole thing!  >:D)

A bare FPGA chip?! Do you buy your GPUs as loose chips as well and roll your own boards? If the answer is "yes", I'm impressed. Otherwise, you definitely want to start with an off-the-shelf FPGA development board.

It is not straightforward to design and manufacture a board around a large FPGA, and a learning curve at $3000 a pop becomes painful quickly. I would also start with a smaller (cheaper) FPGA to test whether your concept works as you expect.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #106 on: April 12, 2021, 05:23:32 am »
Why all the licensing crud -  theres no licensing for GPUS,  whats the big deal?

Because that's their business model? Because that's how it's always been? Because the profitable customers are willing to pay for it? It doesn't really matter, it is what it is. For most things it's a total non-issue, I've never even heard of a hobbyist FPGA developer needing something larger than the largest parts supported by the free tools.

You keep trying to compare FPGAs with GPUs and we keep trying to explain they are two completely different animals. There is some crossover, there are some things you can do with a general purpose microprocessor that you can also do with an FPGA or vice versa but they are not even remotely the same thing, the entire paradigm is different and a lot of the applications are completely different. If you're trying to pump gigabits of data out a dozen or more ADCs in parallel reading a high speed camera CCD into RAM in real time at 10,000 fps the FPGA is the way to go, a GPU simply cannot do that. If you're trying to render textured polygons to create smooth flowing high resolution graphics a GPU is the way to go, they are literally designed from the ground up to do exactly that, and no FPGA is going to touch one, at least in terms of cost.

Comparing a FPGA to a GPU is like comparing a farm tractor to a forklift, or a claw hammer to a hockey stick. They are different tools that excel at different applications, with some amount of crossover in the middle where either tool could do an acceptable job.
 
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Online gnuarm

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #107 on: April 12, 2021, 05:31:47 am »
The FPGA im looking at to buy is this https://au.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Intel-Altera/10AX048H3F34I2SG/?qs=Rv6LVDxB0ZouSsIL4OazgQ%3D%3D
a $3,200 australian dollar, one with 480,000 luts (4 input 2 output) on it.  its very expensive and I already doesnt look like ill be able to fit my whole design onto it fully unrolled.  (I want to unroll the whole thing!  >:D)

A bare FPGA chip?! Do you buy your GPUs as loose chips as well and roll your own boards? If the answer is "yes", I'm impressed. Otherwise, you definitely want to start with an off-the-shelf FPGA development board.

It is not straightforward to design and manufacture a board around a large FPGA, and a learning curve at $3000 a pop becomes painful quickly. I would also start with a smaller (cheaper) FPGA to test whether your concept works as you expect.

You don't even need a board.  Everything needed to answer the question of can it work can be tested in simulation.  Of course, the simulations will run much more effectively if a portion of the design is run rather than the entire design.  Simulating a half million LUTs will take a tremendous amount of time. 

Now that we all have supercomputers on our desks and in our computer bags, I wonder what people use to simulate large designs on?   

I worked at a place that did a lot of FPGA designs and they would have four servers to run simulations on.  Every year or so they would be upgraded and the previous year's servers would end up on people's desks.  The servers were just the latest and greatest with plenty of memory.   
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Offline agehall

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #108 on: April 12, 2021, 11:28:24 am »
Why all the licensing crud -  theres no licensing for GPUS,  whats the big deal?  480,000 isnt even BIG  I need bigger.  What a let down.

Stop comparing the two. They are different things for different purposes with some overlap. FPGAs are logic. GPUs are purpose built devices for doing specific math relating to 3D but can also be generalized to do more.

And how did you come to the conclusion that a 480k LE device "isnt even big"? I'd say it is a fairly large chip. How much of the footprint is your implementation using at the moment? Have you looked at optimizing it? Any device can be too small for even a blink sketch if you implement it badly.

I know this might be harsh to hear, but if you have no or little experience with VHDL/Verilog development, you are probably doing it wrong since you are coming from the software world. I know this trap all too well from my own experience - I can easily write simple Verilog that does what I need but it won't be optimized or very good in general. On the other hand, the devices I play with are typically way bigger than the minimum requirements so I just don't care about it.

As I said before, for your application, FPGAs might not be the right solution. You started this thread by asking "who uses fpga's" and I think I wasn't the only one who read your first post as (paraphrasing) "FPGAs are useless - GPUs are much better!" which is kind of like saying "Bananas are better than apples!". I think there are several very good examples of where FPGAs are used in this thread. But I don't think anyone is saying that they will replace GPUs anytime soon but that doesn't mean that GPUs will replace FPGAs either - they are mostly different solutions to different problems.
 
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Offline Bassman59

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #109 on: April 12, 2021, 02:48:18 pm »
Why all the licensing crud -  theres no licensing for GPUS,  whats the big deal?  480,000 isnt even BIG  I need bigger.  What a let down.

Stop comparing the two. They are different things for different purposes with some overlap. FPGAs are logic. GPUs are purpose built devices for doing specific math relating to 3D but can also be generalized to do more.

Yes, this, exactly.
 

Offline Capernicus

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #110 on: April 12, 2021, 03:17:53 pm »
So a 480,000 LUT FPGA needs an exhorbitant $4000 extra licensing fee.       I remember a few days ago I thought I saw a billion gate FPGA! but I must have read it wrong.

Is there smaller ones which have a free license? -  I need something I can afford.


I just shaved some more off the ALU and it should fit in 7366 gates now, by dropping precision and simplifying the geometry, if I only put 1 physics step in there physically, instead of the 20, I know its still a bit big,  but its smaller than it used to be.   Have to see if I can get it even less tho!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2021, 03:21:58 pm by Capernicus »
 

Online gnuarm

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #111 on: April 12, 2021, 03:45:24 pm »
So a 480,000 LUT FPGA needs an exhorbitant $4000 extra licensing fee.       I remember a few days ago I thought I saw a billion gate FPGA! but I must have read it wrong.

Yes, you read it wrong.  When I searched I found a board vendor with 200,000,000 gates per board with four chips.  You don't seem to understand the distinction between a gate and a LUT.  You also need to understand that an FPGA is not just LUTs.  It also has about as many FFs which take a number of gates to make and the routing also uses transistors although not as gates, but the area of the routing is more than the logic.  The VU19P has 9 million LUTs, not a billion.


Quote
Is there smaller ones which have a free license? -  I need something I can afford.

Yes, many.  Check out Xilinx web site as well as Intel's.


Quote
I just shaved some more off the ALU and it should fit in 7366 gates now, by dropping precision and simplifying the geometry, if I only put 1 physics step in there physically, instead of the 20, I know its still a bit big,  but its smaller than it used to be.   Have to see if I can get it even less tho!

Why do you keep talking gates???  If you mean LUTs, that is a huge number of LUTs for an ALU.  Why don't you post your code?
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Offline Capernicus

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #112 on: April 12, 2021, 03:56:39 pm »
I would post my code, but its not worth showing yet its all comments still,   I've gone through 3 more revisions now to get it as tight as it is,  I could post the method steps, but not the actual code yet.   Its a stick insect walking on a flat plane, would you believe. :)  U wonder what I'm up to.  :-DD
Thats why I was talking about pong before, its similar, its just a little game the same, and I need to run it as many times as I can in a second.

Its taking me a while because I haven't even got the new rotation instructions down pat yet,  I'm not using matrix multiplies,  I'm doing the rotate with additions instead.

Heres a video of my old version running on the GPU.  (this new one is going to be way better!!)





To get that to happen again (10 million times better) I need an ALU with these steps in it->

// 1. integrate rigid body, hinge rotations and the reverse reaction.
// 2. generate the points.  (this can be low depth!)
// 3. get the lowest point below the floor level.
// 4. binary hone this one point to find the intersection point.
// 5. recompute the tipping axis, and the reverse reaction point/hinges.
// 6. integrate rigid body, hinge rotations and the reverse reaction.     
                                                              (I think I can do that in 1000 adds, but i have to see for sure..)
 
and that runs one frame of the physics simulation... then i just need to keep spamming it as fast as I can to get it to move along.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2021, 04:16:25 pm by Capernicus »
 

Offline rstofer

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #113 on: April 12, 2021, 04:16:00 pm »
Why do you keep talking gates???  If you mean LUTs, that is a huge number of LUTs for an ALU.  Why don't you post your code?
Truly, gates is a useless number and Xilinx gave up on it some time after the Spartan 3.  It's all about cells or LUTs these days.  The problem is, it's hard to estimate how many LUTs are required because the synthesizer lays out the logic.  It splits 6-input LUTs into 2 5-input LUTs whenever it wants.  It's way smarter than me so I just let it do it's thing.

So, if the synthesizer wants to do all the work, fine, just tell me what percentage of each resource is allocated and I'll take it from there.  I can select the biggest chip in the family for the design steps and back off when I see the LUT count (or flip-flops or BlockRAM or <some other constrained resource>.

Unless latency with respect to an external event is a critical design parameter, pipeline everything.  If you can't do 'n' operations in parallel, do them serial (step by step) and just accept the latency.  In concept, everything is done in just one clock cycle.  It just takes 'n' clocks to get the result of any particular input.

Pipelining eats up a lot of flip-flops saving state at each step.  Good thing we have so many!

Why does Vivado cost so much for the commercial version?  Maybe because it took 1000 person-years and $200 million to develop.  The big developers would rather pay once for the tools than have the cost of Vivado amortized over all the devices they buy.  Hobbyists would rather pay more for the chips (of which they will buy very few) than pay for software.  We're just damn lucky to get the software at all.  There was a time when there were no free versions of anything.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xilinx_Vivado


« Last Edit: April 12, 2021, 04:19:30 pm by rstofer »
 

Offline Capernicus

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #114 on: April 12, 2021, 04:31:32 pm »
 

Offline emece67

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #115 on: April 12, 2021, 07:51:24 pm »
You don't even need a board.  Everything needed to answer the question of can it work can be tested in simulation.  Of course, the simulations will run much more effectively if a portion of the design is run rather than the entire design.  Simulating a half million LUTs will take a tremendous amount of time. 

I think this is the point. IMHO the OP does not need an FPGA (yet). Simulation can give clues about the usefulness of FPGA for his problem. If simulation time is an issue, scale(down) the architecture or move up the abstraction level. When and if the architecture seems feasible to achieve your goals, select a device/vendor and simulate at a lower abstraction level. When and if you are confident that the design will achieve all design goals, buy the device.
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Offline ebastler

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #116 on: April 12, 2021, 08:21:43 pm »
IMHO the OP does not need an FPGA (yet). Simulation can give clues about the usefulness of FPGA for his problem.

I believe we are witnessing some kind of midlife crisis. "Oh gosh, I have missed out on FPGAs all my life. I need to get me the biggest, baddest FPGA of them all, and I need to get it now!"  :P
 

Offline Bassman59

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #117 on: April 12, 2021, 09:36:06 pm »
IMHO the OP does not need an FPGA (yet). Simulation can give clues about the usefulness of FPGA for his problem.

I believe we are witnessing some kind of midlife crisis. "Oh gosh, I have missed out on FPGAs all my life. I need to get me the biggest, baddest FPGA of them all, and I need to get it now!"  :P

Yeah, seriously, he should just buy a two-seat convertible roadster! It might be cheaper than that biggest, baddest FPGA of them all!
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #118 on: April 12, 2021, 09:49:02 pm »
When you can fit an entire 8 bit computer complete with VGA video, PS/2 keyboard and a UART in one of the cheapest FPGA boards on the market I have a hard time getting excited about really big parts. It's going to be different for everybody but I have never come close to filling up the midsized Cyclone II on my DE2 and that isn't even big by modern standards, most of my projects are block RAM constrained. The bigger the FPGA, the longer it takes to compile, and that is primarily why the little $13 Cyclone II boards are the ones I use the most often, they're big enough for most of the stuff I'm playing around with, and they compile in a few seconds. Compiling the same project for a big FPGA could take several minutes. Compiling something that actually fills that big FPGA could take hours.
 

Offline Capernicus

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #119 on: April 12, 2021, 10:00:29 pm »
IMHO the OP does not need an FPGA (yet). Simulation can give clues about the usefulness of FPGA for his problem.

I believe we are witnessing some kind of midlife crisis. "Oh gosh, I have missed out on FPGAs all my life. I need to get me the biggest, baddest FPGA of them all, and I need to get it now!"  :P

Yeah, seriously, he should just buy a two-seat convertible roadster! It might be cheaper than that biggest, baddest FPGA of them all!


Computer cost as much as a car... then he walks to the shop for a pie and hasn't got a license.  :)
 

Offline Bassman59

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #120 on: April 13, 2021, 03:40:02 pm »
When you can fit an entire 8 bit computer complete with VGA video, PS/2 keyboard and a UART in one of the cheapest FPGA boards on the market I have a hard time getting excited about really big parts. It's going to be different for everybody but I have never come close to filling up the midsized Cyclone II on my DE2 and that isn't even big by modern standards, most of my projects are block RAM constrained. The bigger the FPGA, the longer it takes to compile, and that is primarily why the little $13 Cyclone II boards are the ones I use the most often, they're big enough for most of the stuff I'm playing around with, and they compile in a few seconds. Compiling the same project for a big FPGA could take several minutes. Compiling something that actually fills that big FPGA could take hours.

What seems to be missing here is that you don't choose the biggest/baddest FPGA because you're in a dick-measuring contest. You choose the part that fits the design need. In some cases, that need is a Spartan 3AN50 or a Lattice MachXO2 1200. In other cases, it's a big/bad Virtex7 like a friend is using for a radio astronomy project.

As a rule I have no need for FPGA development boards. My designs need the external peripherals and connections they need, and eval kits never have the rest of the hardware. And if you have to spin a daughter-card to get that extra stuff, why not put the FPGA on the end product's board straight away? (We are talking about product design, not hobby stuff, right?)

OK: I will admit to an exception of the "no need for FPGA development boards." I needed to prove that a PolarFire FPGAs gigabit transceiver could be configured to talk to an existing design's transceivers over fiber with an SFP+ module. (If that didn't work then there was no point in pursuing the PolarFire as a solution.) I was all set to design a small test board to do that, but then I found a board from Future which was $179 and had the SFP connector attached to one of the FPGA transceiver ports and there's no way I can beat that price for a one-off! Oh, yeah, the PolarFire transceiver works well, once you figure out how to configure the thing.
 
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Offline Capernicus

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #121 on: April 13, 2021, 09:12:29 pm »
Is the Lattice MachXO2 1200,   1k gates/LUTs?


I wonder what decides the price of an fpga,  why "this many gates = this many dollars?"  I wonder,   do they run benchmarks on GPUs and then see what matches what FPGA?

I'm just taking a rest from my work,   But I've got a bit more done,   Doing the 3d maths in such a wierd way gets tiresome,  and my poor head to begin with.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2021, 09:31:25 pm by Capernicus »
 

Offline ebastler

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #122 on: April 13, 2021, 09:21:47 pm »
I wonder what decides the price of an fpga,  why "this many gates = this many dollars?"  I wonder,   do they run benchmarks on GPUs and then see what matches what FPGA?

No, they don't.
They don't care about GPUs.
Those are different beasts.
Don't keep mixing them up please.
Has anyone mentioned this before? 
|O
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #123 on: April 13, 2021, 09:28:53 pm »
Is the Lattice MachXO2 1200,   1k gates?


I wonder what decides the price of an fpga,  why "this many gates = this many dollars?"  I wonder,   do they run benchmarks on GPUs and then see what matches what FPGA?

I'm just taking a rest from my work,   But I've got a big more done,   Doing the 3d maths in such a wierd way gets tiresome,  and my poor head to begin with.

Prices are determined by their marketing department, it's based on features compared to their other products, and performance binning across parts of the same type. Just like any other high dollar semiconductor.

What is your obsession with GPUs? FPGAs and GPUs *ARE NOT RELATED*, they don't do the same thing, they don't work the same way, they're not used for the same tasks, STOP COMPARING them, it doesn't make any sense. Do you see supermarkets comparing apple pie to beef stew? Are resistors better than capacitors? Are LEDs better than rectifier diodes? Do hammers perform better than crowbars? That all makes as much sense. You keep circling back to GPUs for reasons that are a mystery to me and it's starting to feel like trolling. :palm:
 

Offline Capernicus

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Re: who uses fpga's
« Reply #124 on: April 13, 2021, 09:39:05 pm »
Sorry, but I think I do have a point here.  8)

GPUS and FPGAS can actually run the same task.   AND!  U can make a gpu on an fpga!  Its another kind of microcontroller.
If fpgas were cheaper than GPUS then it would cheaper to make a gpu on an fpga.   

Both a gpu and an fpga are digital logic,  they are the same thing, wires connecting transistors.  A gpu is an fpga in the form of a gpu with the programmality removed.

So the market would have to take it into account to a degree.
 


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