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FPGA’s Tackle Motor Control System

The need for more power efficient control of multiple motors has resulted in the inclusion of microcontroller and mixed signal devices into the fabric of FPGAs.

The world of electronics is reintegrating itself into the world of mechanical control systems. One good example of this trend is the inclusion of microcontrollers with analog mixed signal functionality into modern FPGAs devices. This mixing of  electronic technologies enables increased programmability into the surprising complex world of mechanical motors and motion control applications.

Is there really a market for such mundane devices as motors? You bet – thanks in no small measure to the “green” movement for more power efficient use of electronic and related mechanical systems. Many of yesterday’s big, power inefficient motors are being replaced by very power efficient yet mechanically strong motors in industries from industrial controls to medical devices.

The big challenge with motors is in the control of the speed and torque of multiple motors (see figure from ESC – San Jose, CA). That is one reason why the combination of microcontrollers and mixed signal devices into the programmable fabric of an FPGA looks so promising, e.g., Actel’s recently announced SmartFusion technology. [Actel Fuses Together Digital And Analog ]

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As motor control technology becomes more important, electronic engineers may want to brush up on their understanding of mechanical systems. And vice versa.

3 Responses to “FPGA’s Tackle Motor Control System”

  1. Marc Perron Says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for this great post. According to ABB, more than 66% of industrial energy is used to power electric motors :

    The key in energy efficiency of motor system is to operate the motor at optimal speed on every point of operation of the system. FPGA can achieve to do that very well espcially in the case of small motors where motor model are more complex and since time constants are smaller, high computing bandwidth is required.

    On the cost and TTM side, FPGA can bring in productivity when used as a system integration platform. Building systems with FPGA + 3rd party IP (HMI IP, communication IP, Motor Control IP) is a great way to achieve high performance system quickly, in time and at reduced cost.

    I invite you to visit my blog on FPGA Technology in Power Electronics applications at :

    Best Regards, Marc.

  2. Joerg Bertholdt Says:

    Great example for increasing system integration – microcontroller, FPGA, DSP, all in one platform. Integration happening at the hardware level requires integration also at the software level supporting a unified design flow.

    Best Regards

    Joerg at XMOS,

  3. sheetal Says:

    how i can impliment fpga in programmable dimmer for light systems.

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