FPGA Technology and Software IP in Power Electronics Applications

Altera’s CEO speaks on FPGA-based Motor Control for power savings

In a recent article, Altera’s CEO, John Daane, has clearly expressed the idea that FPGA are well positionned to enable “technology which allows people to save energy“.

According to Daane, “66 per cent of the world’s industrial electricity runs motors, but only five per cent use variable speed drivers. FPGAs can be used in most motor controllers because they are programmable”. Those figures are comparable with other well-known published numbers on world’s energy consumption, such as those of IEEE-Fellow Dr. Bimal Bose’s article on the environmental impact of power electronic applications.

This article also reveals the existence of two new Altera FPGA-based Motor Control development platforms : Arrow’s Motion Fire and EBV’s Falcon Eye. Those platforms are meant to design motor controller for industrial applications using PMSM, BLDC or induction motors. Both kits are currently bundled with BLDC motors. You can even get a feeling of the Motion Fire on YouTube.

Those are the first Altera platforms for Motor Control but not the first FPGA-based. There has been Xilinx-IRF Accelerator Platform but we don’t hear about it anymore. The second one has been the Fusion-based Actel-Ishnatek platform who is still available for purchase.

With the recent rise of energy prices and the need for power savings, is this the first sign of a new battle in the motor control field ?