Microprocessor emulator
FPGAs key to innovative, leading edge emulator design
Technologies used

    Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA)

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    332 Instruments and appliances for measuring, checking, testing etc.
    30 Computers and other information processing equipment

Flash Designs Ltd., United Kingdom, developed a prototype emulator in 14 months, at a cost of 77KECU. The emulator is used for microprocessor/FPGA development, and the design incorporates a range of upgrades, protected by novel security encryption techniques. The company has three employees, with two involved in electronics design.

Flash Designs spent seven years developing a Universal Emulator tool for aiding engineers in debugging assembler or ‘C’ code for embedded microprocessor systems. The old design consisted of 4 PCB’s carrying 33 logic chips, a mixture of 74 series CMOS logic and GAL/EPLDs. It was originally planned to use an MPGA to incorporate the majority of this logic, but during the course of the project further inputs from market research caused gradual changes in the company’s marketing and distribution strategy, and in the product specification. In particular, higher design security encryption, re-configurable logic and the ability to upgrade the product in the field became essential requirements, making the use of an Mask Programmed Gate Array (MPGA) unsuitable. The final design therefore uses FPGAs, and the old design has been condensed into a single board, reducing the manufacturing cost by 70%, and enabling higher performance. New product features include support for FPGA development in addition to microcontrollers, the ability to upgrade the product remotely, and improved ease of set-up and use. The projected development pay-back period is 18 months, and the Return On Investment is anticipated to be 1600% over the product lifetime.

The Demonstrator will be of wide interest to electronic equipment manufacturers with a similar level of existing technology. The demonstrator particularly shows how a company with a strong market awareness adjusted their marketing strategy and product specification in order to gain advantage from changing market conditions. The new product will open up additional markets and distribution channels and is expected to lead to rapid company growth.


    Flash Designs Ltd
    Address 2nd Floor, North Parade House
    12A North Parade, Bath,
    BA2 4AL

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

FPGA technology provided Flash Designs Ltd. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Bournemouth University
Poole House, Fern Barrow
BH12 5BB Poole
United Kingdom