In many ways 100 Power Tips For FPGA Designers is an unusual book, not the least that it’s a book that will provide something of interest to almost every reader (yes, this is unusual – I see so many books that hold no interest for me at all).
Actually I must admit to feeling a little foolish, because – from the title – I had sort of expected to see annotations in the text saying “Tip #1” followed by the tip itself. So after I had been merrily reading along for a while, a thought popped into my head along the lines of “That’s funny; I haven’t seen any tips yet.”
So I quickly flicked through the entire book without seeing a single “Tip” annotation. It was only when I got to the end of the book – Chapter 100 – that I thought “Now there’s a coincidence; the book is called ‘100 Tips’ and there are 100 chapters.” It was shortly after this that – if you had been passing my study – you would have heard the sound of a book hitting someone’s head and that person exclaiming “Doh!” (Actually, it wouldn’t have hurt to name the chapters “Tip 1: xxxx”, “Tip 2: yyyy”, and so forth as an aid to slower readers like myself [grin].)
For myself, I really like this style of things – having lots of short, focused chapters, each of which can be read in isolation. This facilitates different readers “jumping in” wherever they wish. It also makes it easy to locate the specific topic you are looking for – if you have questions about floorplanning memories and FIFOs, for example, then Chapter 96 is the one for you.
Another thing I really like is the price, which is $35.96 from Amazon. I think this is much more reasonable than the ~$100+ price tags you see on some technical books.
I also like the fact that the author, Evgeni Stavinov, is a practicing engineer – a longtime FPGA user with more than 10 years of diverse design experience. The great thing is that Evgeni obviously knows his stuff and enjoys explaining things to others. Basically, what Evgeni has done is to write 100 short articles that leap from topic to topic with the agility of a mountain goat. Example topics are synthesis, simulation, porting ASIC designs, floorplanning and timing closure, design methodologies, performance, area and power optimizations, RTL coding, IP core selection, and many more. The book also contains a wealth of illustrations, code examples, and scripts.
It should be noted that the book focuses on the use of the Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 FPGA families from Xilinx; also that code examples are written in Verilog HDL. Generally speaking, however, the underlying principles are applicable to any FPGA family.
I personally think that this book would be incredibly useful to a wide range of readers, from younger engineers to folks with lots of experience (there’s always something more to learn). Do you recall my recent blog Where have all the mentors gone? This was about a young ASIC/FPGA engineer at a large aerospace firm.
His problem is that he is lacking the guidance he needs from senior engineers to truly learn the discipline well. He frequently finds himself getting stuck and staying stuck for much of the day because senior personnel are too busy to help. He eventually resolves his issues, but he feels that he is not learning the trade as well as he could be.
Well, I think that 100 Power Tips For FPGA Designers could act as a substitute for having one’s very own mentor. Thus, I am going to send my copy of the book to this engineer and ask him to give it a read and let us know what he thinks (I will be reporting back further in a future blog).
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