1.8. How to Use This Book
Our goal in writing this book is to make you a more productive designer of mixed hardware/software applications, using FPGAs as a vehicle, and to provide you with an alternate method of design entry, debugging, and compilation. We have not written this book with the goal of eliminating, or even reducing the importance of, existing hardware and software design methods.
If you are an experienced software developer or embedded systems designer who is considering FPGAs for hardware acceleration of key algorithms, this book is designed primarily, but not exclusively, with you in mind. We will introduce you to FPGAs, provide some history and background on their use as general-purpose hardware devices, and help you understand some of the advantages and pitfalls of introducing them into an embedded system as an additional computing resource. We will then spend a substantial amount of time introducing you to the concepts of parallel programming and creating mixed hardware/software applications using C.
If you are an experienced hardware developer currently using VHDL or Verilog, our goal is to help you use the C language as a complement to your existing methods of design. Using C will allow you to more quickly generate prototype hardware for algorithms that have previously been expressed in C and give you the freedom to experiment with alternative methods of creating large, interconnected systems in hardware. This flexibility will in turn accelerate your development of custom hardware elements. The C language will also provide you with alternative methods of creating hardware/software test benches and related components for the purpose of unit or system testing.
Finally, both hardware and software developers can learn from this book about the demands of designing for the "other side" of the narrowing hardware/software divide. We hope that as development methods for hardware and software begin to converge, so too will the cooperation between hardware and software designers be improved.