One of the reasons for the explosive growth of IoT is that embedded devices with networking capabilities and sensor interfaces are cheap enough to deploy them at a plethora of locations.
However, network bandwidth is limited. Not only that, but also, the latency of the network can be of seconds or minutes. By the time the sensor data is acquired by the centralized computers, its value for decision making could be lost. In other words, for the IoT solution to be effective, it should not only deliver meaningful data securely (and filter it as much as possible to avoid network congestion), it should also analyze it and act upon it at the origination point of the data. At the very edge of the network.
In this third part of the series (as promised), we will show how to implement the timers block by using, not registers, but memory blocks.
Memory blocks are an often unused capability of modern FPGAs and can in many cases (as in this one) be a nice alternative to save on scarce resources like registers and LUTs. As we commented in the previous entry, implementing a block of 32 x 16 bit timers took about 7% of the LUTs of a Cyclone, and we wanted to see if we can reduce the quantity of resources taken.
The concept of machine learning is not new. Attempts at systems emulating intelligent behavior, like expert systems, go as far back as the early 1980’s. And the very notion of modern Artificial Intelligence has a long history. The name itself was coined at a Dartmouth College conference (1956), but the idea of an “electronic brain” was born together with the development of modern computers. AI as an idea accompanies us from the dawn of human history.
Three latest development are pushing forward “Machine Learning”:
Powerful distributed processors
Cheap and high volume storage
High bandwidth interconnection to bring the data to the processors
“Field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are increasingly complex system on chips (SoCs) that include not just programmable logic gates and random access memory (RAM) but also analog-to-digital converters (ADCs); digital-to-analog converters (DACs); and programmable analog features and signal-conditioning circuits that enable high-performance digital computations in servers, network-attached storage (NAS), enterprise switches, oscilloscopes, network analyzers, test equipment and software-defined radios.”
Modern FPGA devices are quite complex machines. They include support for several type of I/Os at different voltages (LVCMOS, LVDS, SSTL, etc). Also, the FPGA core usually works at low voltages of around 1.0V, but at quite high currents of several amperes. Additionally, power sequencing requirements must be met.