As integrated circuit technology has improved to allow more and more
components on a chip, digital systems have continued to grow in complexity.
As digital systems have become more complex, detailed design of the systems at the gate and flip-flop level has become very tedious and time consuming. For this reason, use of hardware description languages in the digital design process continues to grow in importance.
A hardware description language allows a digital system to be designed and debugged at a higher level before conversion to the gate and flip-flop level. Use of synthesis CAD tools to do this conversion, is becoming more widespread.
This is analogous to writing software programs in a high level language such as C, and then using a compiler to convert the programs to machine language. The two most popular hardware description languages are VHDL and Verilog.
The MAC unit provides high-speed multiplication, multiplication with cumulative addition, multiplication with cumulative subtraction, saturation, and clear-to-zero functions. These operations are extensively used in Fast Fourier Transforms required by the MP3 Chip. The 16 bit multiplier accumulator unit is based on the multiplier accumulator specification of the Analog Devices ADSP2181 chip.
Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are being used increasingly in embedded general purpose computing environments as performance accelerators. This new use beyond the traditional usage as glue logic and as a rapid prototyping enabler has also renewed interest in the FPGA architecture.
The fine grain reconfigurability of the FPGA architecture makes it an ideal candidate for use in system-on-chip environments that strive to integrate heterogeneous programmable architectures