FPGA meets speed needs of laser range finder

Norm Roberts, a senior engineer at Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Co. in Nashua, N.H., needed a gate array that is fast and easy to use. To meet his needs for a military laser range finder device, his thoughts turned immediately to QuickLogic in Sunnyvale, Calif., whose gate arrays he had used before on another range finder application.

Jan 1st, 1997

Norm Roberts, a senior engineer at Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Co. in Nashua, N.H., needed a gate array that is fast and easy to use. To meet his needs for a military laser range finder device, his thoughts turned immediately to QuickLogic in Sunnyvale, Calif., whose gate arrays he had used before on another range finder application.

"Range counting requires long counter elements at high frequencies, and the QuickLogic gate array lent itself perfectly to that application," he says.

"Other vendors make components approaching [the speed of] QuickLogic, but I hadn`t found any that were comparable yet, when I was looking," he adds.

An intensive macro library of components, and the ability of the device - the QL12X16-1CG84M - to work over the full military temperature range were also selling points.

Roberts found the only drawback to be the unavailability of the compound as die: "The counter requires other components, other than FPGAs, but the only way to get a military version is in an 84-pin grid array package, which is one-inch square," he explains. "We needed logical functions, but few I/O, so had a smaller package been available, it would have saved us some real estate, especially for hand-held applications, where you want to keep things as small as possible." Even so, he says the advantages of speed and ease of use outweighed the disadvantages.

Roberts says his future plans require an FPGA in a more exotic counting scheme that would require a clock at around 150 MHz. "I would approach QuickLogic first; they don`t have it yet, but they keep making improvements, so by the time I need it, perhaps it will be available."

The device he now uses is 60 MHz. He says while there are faster FPGAs in commercial and industrial grades, this is the fastest he`s aware of in military grade. - K.S.

For more information on QuickLogic`s FPGAs, phone 408-987-2000, send a fax to 408-987-2012, or check out the company Web site at http://www.quicklogic.com.

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